Mounting Covid cases push down Seoul stocks
Stocks ended a four-session winning streak Thursday, as the daily new virus cases in the country spiked to a nearly six-month high. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi lost 24.87 points, or 1.05 percent, to close at 2,344.45.
Trading volume was high at about 898 million shares worth some 14.9 trillion won ($12.6 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 725 to 152.
Foreigners sold a net 26 billion won, ending a four-day buying streak, while retail investors purchased a net 468 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 473 billion won.
Investor sentiment remained subdued due to the latest uptick in virus cases. The country reported 441 new Covid-19 cases, the largest daily tally since March 7.
"Today's markets seem to be influenced by the new Covid-19 cases and the speculation of the toughest virus restrictions," said Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young.
The Bank of Korea froze the key rate at 0.5 percent, while further cutting this year's growth outlook amid deepening uncertainties from the virus flare-up.
The central bank expects the country's economy to retreat 1.3 percent this year, compared with the previous projection of a 0.2 percent retreat in May.
Large caps closed mixed.
Samsung Electronics fell 1.42 percent to 55,600 won, while chipmaker SK hynix climbed 0.38 percent to 79,100 won.
Tech and game shares jumped. Internet portal giant Naver gained 0.9 percent to 337,000 won, and its rival Kakao surged 4.72 percent to 410,500 won. Leading game publisher NCSoft shot up 5.5 percent to 863,000 won.
Pharmaceutical company Samsung Biologics retreated 1.35 percent to 801,000 won, with Celltrion dipping 1.93 percent to 304,500 won.
Chemical maker LG Chem rose 0.66 percent to 762,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI gained 2.74 percent to 469,000 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, contracted 2.39 percent to 163,500 won, and steelmaker Posco lost 2.33 percent to 188,500 won.
The secondary Kosdaq lost 4.95 points, or 0.59 percent, to close at 836.40.
The local currency closed at 1,185 won against the dollar, down 1.8 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year bonds added 1.7 basis points to 0.852 percent, and the yield on ten-year government bonds added 0.9 basis points to 0.69 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [email@example.com]