Stocks decline as Covid-19 infection numbers rise
Stocks closed lower Monday as investors remained skeptical about the possibility of an economic recovery amid a resurgence in the new coronavirus. The won rose to an over 19-month high against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi fell 16.90 points, or 0.72 percent, to close at 2,343.91.
Trading volume was moderate at 803 million shares worth 11.29 trillion won ($10 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 759 to 119.
Foreigners offloaded a net 118.8 billion won, and retail investors sold a net 117.3 billion won. Institutions picked up a net 244.7 billion won.
Stocks got off to a firm start on lingering hopes for progress in fresh stimulus talks in the United States.
But investor sentiment worsened as the country's new coronavirus cases shot up to 119, sharply up from 61 cases reported a day earlier.
A recent global spike in the number of Covid-19 infections has dashed hopes for an earlier-than-expected economic recovery.
"The number of daily new Covid-19 cases in the United States has reached over 80,000, and the growing number of new infections in Europe has heightened the possibility of economic lockdowns and will likely expand market volatility," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Over the weekend, Spain imposed an overnight curfew, while Italy decided to shut down public locations, including cinemas, to stem the spread of the virus.
In Seoul, most large caps closed lower.
Samsung Electronics added 0.33 percent to 60,400 won, while chipmaker SK hynix fell 0.83 percent to 83,200 won.
Internet portal Naver lost 1.75 percent to 281,500 won, with its rival Kakao tumbling 3.09 percent to 329,500 won.
Chemical maker LG Chem dropped 0.62 percent to 646,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI shed 1.65 percent to 417,500 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics sank 0.94 percent to 630,000 won, while Celltrion remained unchanged at 238,000 won.
Automaker Hyundai Motor jumped 2.69 percent to 171,500 won. The company said it shifted to a loss in the third quarter from a year earlier on hefty provisions for recalls.
The Kosdaq fell 29.96 points, or 3.71 percent, to close at 778.02.
The local currency closed at 1,127.7 won to the dollar, down 5.2 won from the previous session and marking the highest closing since March 5, 2019.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds lost 0.1 basis points to 0.908 percent, and the return on 10-year bonds lost 2.4 basis points to close at 0.84 percent.
BY LEE JEE-YOUNG, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]