Jump in Covid-19 cases ends Kospi winning streak
Stocks closed lower Thursday, snapping a three-day winning streak, on the largest number of daily coronavirus infections in nearly two months. The won fell against the dollar.
The Kospi lost 2.66 points, or 0.13 percent, to close at 2,028.54. Trading volume was high at about 1.15 billion shares worth some 14.2 trillion won ($11.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 689 to 177.
Foreigners bought a net 42.8 billion won, while retail investors sold off a net 285.3 billion won. Institutions purchased a net 241.8 billion won.
The escalating Covid-19 woes erased much of the morning gains. The index hit a session-high in the morning, following the Bank of Korea's decision to cut its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a record low of 0.50 percent.
The stocks declined fast after Korean quarantine officials reported 79 new cases of the new coronavirus, the biggest single-day spike in 53 days.
The increase is mostly blamed on mass infections at a distribution center in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, which is operated by e-commerce giant Coupang, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
Health authorities expressed concerns that this new cluster infection may lead to more cases.
In Seoul, large caps closed mixed.
Samsung Electronics rose 1.0 percent to 50,400 won and chipmaker SK hynix jumped 3.07 percent to 83,900 won.
Hyundai Motor slid 0.92 percent at 97,200 won, while its affiliate Kia Motors climbed 0.47 percent to 32,100 won.
Internet portal Naver spiked 5.25 percent to 240,500 won, with its local rival Kakao up 2.59 percent to 267,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics dropped 2.08 percent to 611,000 won, and chemical maker LG Chem fell 1.77 percent to 388,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,239.60 won against the U.S. dollar, up 5.20 won from the previous session's close.
The secondary Kosdaq was down 15.84 points, or 2.19 percent, to close at 708.75.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds lost 5.1 basis points to 0.817 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bond lost 1.3 basis points to reach 0.68 percent.
BY KIM YEON-AH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]