Kospi down 2.46 percent as Covid-19 cases increase
Stocks plunged by more than 2 percent Tuesday as investor sentiment turned sour amid the resurgence of new coronavirus infections in the country. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi tumbled 59.25 points, or 2.46 percent, to close at 2,348.24, marking the steepest fall after June 15.
Trading volume was high at about 898 million shares worth some 17.3 trillion won ($14.6 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 827 to 66.
Foreigners bought a net 72 billion won, while retail investors offloaded a net 527 billion won. Institutions purchased a net 478 billion won.
"The spreading Covid-19 pushed down the Kospi that has already been under valuation pressure," said Yuanta Securities Korea analyst Cho Byung-hyun.
"Bio and related shares have shown relatively stronger gains, due to the coronavirus concerns," he added.
Korea has reported a drastic surge in new Covid-19 infections since late last week. It added 246 new cases Tuesday, after reporting 197 on Monday and 279 on Sunday, a five-month high.
Investor sentiment further weakened due to U.S.-China political tensions and dim outlook for the additional U.S. stimulus package, analysts said.
Most large caps closed lower.
Samsung Electronics added 0.69 percent to 58,400 won, while chipmaker SK hynix lost 2.62 percent to 78,100 won.
Pharmaceutical company Samsung Biologics gained 0.25 percent to 802,000 won, and Celltrion shed 0.16 percent to 304,000 won.
Internet portal giant Naver climbed 0.82 percent to 307,500 won, and Kakao surged 4.28 percent to 378,000 won.
Chemical maker LG Chem dipped 1.43 percent to 690,000 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, sank 5.39 percent to 158,000 won, with steelmaker Posco losing 3.56 percent to 203,000 won.
Cosmetics giant Amorepacific plummeted 10.18 percent to 176,500 won, and carrier Korean Air sank 6.41 percent to 18,250 won.
Duty-free behemoth Shinsegae plunged 8.7 percent to 210,000 won, with its rival Hotel Shilla tumbling 9.25 percent to 71,600 won.
The local currency closed at 1,183.70 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.90 won from the previous session's close.
The secondary Kosdaq lost 34.81 points, or 4.17 percent, to close at 800.22.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds lost 1.8 basis points to 0.810 percent, while the return on the benchmark ten-year government bond lost 1.7 basis points to reach 0.68 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]