Stocks fall 2% as investors start to worry again about Covid-19
The Kospi declined 44.48 points, or 2.04 percent, to finish at 2,132.30. Trading volume was moderate at 681.3 million shares worth 14.7 trillion won ($12.2 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 720 to 160.
The Kospi declined for a second straight day following a nine-day winning streak. It marked the lowest close in eight sessions.
"Investors were spooked by concerns about a potential second wave of infections," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said.
Korean shares nosedived more than 4 percent at the opening bell, taking a cue from overnight plunges in U.S. markets over renewed fears about the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1,861.82 points, or 6.9 percent, to close at 25,128.17.
Investor sentiment remained subdued after the U.S. Federal Reserve warned of a "long road" to economic recovery Wednesday over the virus outbreak and vowed to keep interest rates low.
The Seoul market trimmed earlier losses after retail investors hunted for bargains.
Individual investors snapped up a net 554.3 billion won, while foreigners unloaded a net 265 billion won. Institutions sold more shares than they bought at 283 billion won.
Most stocks closed in negative territory, led by falls in tech shares and automakers.
Samsung Electronics fell 3.68 percent to 52,300 won amid legal uncertainties surrounding alleged accounting fraud.
Chipmaker SK hynix declined 3.73 percent to 85,200 won, and LG Electronics lost 1.74 percent to 67,800 won.
Hyundai Motor shed 4.61 percent to 103,500 won, and its affiliate Kia Motors fell 1.96 percent to 35,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,203.80 won against the dollar, up 7.40 won from the previous session.
The Kosdaq was down 11.00 points, or 1.45 percent, to close at 746.06.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year bonds added 0.4 basis points to 0.841 percent, while the return on the benchmark ten-year government bond lost 5.1 basis points to reach 0.67 percent.
BY KIM YEON-AH, YONHAP [email@example.com]