Market is flat on fears of stiff social distancing measures
Korean stocks closed nearly flat Thursday as investors remained wary of spiking Covid-19 cases and looming social distancing restrictions. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi fell 1.36 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,770.43 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 998.4 million shares worth some 15.8 trillion won ($14.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 493 to 352.
Foreigners sold a net 301.1 billion won, and institutions offloaded a net 32.6 billion won. Retail investors picked up a net 326.3 billion won.
The main index started off weak as Korea reported 1,014 new Covid-19 cases, the third-largest daily virus caseload.
Health authorities are considering adopting the strongest social distancing measures, which would ban gatherings of 10 or more people and require companies to make nonessential employees work from home.
The index, however, trimmed losses later in the session as investors pinned hopes on progress for a new stimulus deal in the United States.
"Investors seemed to cash in gains after the Kospi hit a fresh high the previous day," Samsung Securities analyst Seo Jung-hoon said. "There are also growing hopes for a new U.S. stimulus deal by the end of this year, following optimistic remarks by both Democratic and Republican leadership."
Most large caps in Seoul ended mixed.
Samsung Electronics shed 0.68 percent to 73,300 won, while chipmaker SK hynix gained 1.7 percent to 119,500 won.
Chemical firm LG Chem added 1.34 percent to 830,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI rose 0.53 percent to 567,000 won.
Hyundai Motor edged up 0.26 percent to 190,500 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics fell 0.37 percent to 804,000 won, and Celltrion slipped 0.57 percent to 351,500 won.
Internet portal Naver inched down 0.18 percent to 285,000 won, with rival Kakao declining 0.81 percent to 369,000 won.
The Kosdaq rose 4.39 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 944.04.
The local currency closed at 1,093.3 won against the dollar, down 0.7 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The return on the three-year bond gained 1.3 basis points to close at 1.001 percent, and the return on the 10-year bond added 0.3 basis points to close at 0.91 percent.
BY LEE JEE-YOUNG, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]