Covid fears freak out market, Kospi falls below 2,100
Stocks closed sharply lower Monday, dipping to the lowest point in two weeks on renewed fears of the coronavirus prompted by a recent spike in the number of new cases. The won rose against the dollar.
The Kospi plunged 41.17 points, or 1.93 percent, to close at 2,093.48. It marks the first time since June 15 that the index finished below the 2,100 mark.
Trading volume was moderate at about 632 million shares worth some 8.9 trillion won ($7.4 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 737 to 135.
Foreigners sold a net 468 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 939 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 456 billion won, extending their selling streak to a ninth session.
The drop in the index came amid rising investor concerns over the resurgence in new Covid-19 cases, analysts said.
"Investor sell-offs led the index's fall as the soaring cases in the United States and globally fueled related concerns," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Worsening U.S.-China political friction over China's Hong Kong legislation also contributed to the selling, he added.
As of Sunday, the global toll has surpassed what experts have called two milestones — 500,000 confirmed deaths and 10 million confirmed infections.
New cases in the United States, one of Korea's largest trade partners, grew 1.7 percent. Florida reported a 6.4 percent increase in infections, with Arizona exceeding its weekly average for a fourth day.
Korea added 42 cases, including 30 local infections Monday, raising the total caseload to 12,757.
The tally marked a drop from 62 new cases reported Sunday and 51 additional cases identified Saturday, but authorities continued to warn against cluster infections.
Most large caps finished in negative terrain.
Samsung Electronics lost 1.69 percent to 52,400 won, and SK hynix retreated 1.18 percent to 83,600 won. Samsung BioLogics plunged 3.21 percent to 784,000 won, and Celltrion slipped 0.48 percent to 311,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,198.60 won per dollar, up 2.00 won from the previous session's close.
The secondary Kosdaq was down 15.89 points, or 2.12 percent, to close at 734.69.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year bonds added 3.2 basis points to 0.843 percent, while the return on the benchmark 10-year government bond lost 3.7 basis points to reach 0.64 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]