Seoul stocks up despite fears of second wave
Stocks closed higher Wednesday, ending a two-session losing streak despite fears of the resurgence of the novel coronavirus in Seoul and its surrounding areas. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi advanced 12.30 points, or 0.52 percent, to close at 2,360.54. Trading volume was moderate at about 613 million shares worth some 12 trillion won ($10.2 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 664 to 184.
The Kospi erased almost half of its earlier gains after jumping more than 1 percent tracking Wall Street gains.
The trimming was largely attributed to the recent surge in the novel coronavirus outbreak, mostly occurring in Seoul and neighboring regions.
Korea added 297 new cases Wednesday, the biggest single-day spike in five months.
The country toughened social distancing guidelines, including restricting indoor meetings of 50 or more people and ordering internet cafes and restaurants to close.
"The fact that the capital area has become the Covid-19 hot spot seems to have amplified fears of a potential consumption slump," Samsung Securities senior researcher Yoo Seung-min said.
"Such concerns also fueled investor appetite for profit-taking," he added.
Foreigners sold a net 250 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 460 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 231 billion won.
Large caps traded mixed.
Samsung Electronics lost 1.03 percent to 57,800 won, and chipmaker SK hynix dipped 3.97 percent to 75,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics gained 0.87 percent to 809,000 won, while Celltrion remained flat at 304,000 won.
Chemical maker LG Chem shed 1.01 percent to 683,000 won, but rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI climbed 0.81 percent to 434,500 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, jumped 4.11 percent to 164,500 won.
Internet portal giant Naver added 2.44 percent to 315,000 won, while its rival Kakao retreated 0.40 percent to 376,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,181.20 won per dollar, down 2.50 won from the previous session's close.
The secondary Kosdaq added 18.52 points, or 2.31 percent, to close at 818.74.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds lost 0.6 basis points to 0.804 percent, while the return on the benchmark ten-year government bond lost 2.6 basis points to reach 0.66 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]