Stocks drop as inflation concerns persist
Stocks fell below the 3,000-point threshold on Monday, as improved Chinese economic data and higher U.S. bond yields stoked renewed concerns over rising inflationary pressure. The won weakened against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi fell 30.15 points, or 1 percent, to close at 2,996.11 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 1.9 billion shares worth some 15.5 trillion won ($13.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 551 to 302.
Foreigners sold a net 129 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 525 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 377 billion won.
The Kospi advanced almost 1 percent in the morning session on China's strong February export data, which more than doubled on-year.
But the key stock index fell back as the communist state's faster-than-expected economic rebound sparked concerns over post-pandemic inflation that emerged on rising yields of U.S. Treasuries.
Analysts also noted that market volatility increased ahead of the expiration of options and futures, set for March 11.
In Seoul, steel and financial stocks performed well, while medical, chemical and tech stocks slumped.
Samsung Electronics slipped 0.12 percent to 82,000 won, and chipmaker SK hynix dipped 3.21 percent to 135,500 won.
Chemical firm LG Chem retreated 1.55 percent to 890,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI shed 3.13 percent to 650,000 won.
Hyundai Motor declined 1.91 percent to 230,500 won and steelmaker Posco gained 2.23 percent to 321,500 won.
Samsung Biologics went down 3.2 percent to 696,000 won, while Celltrion lost 3.48 percent to 291,000 won.
Naver fell 2.38 percent to 368,500 won, with its rival Kakao plunged 3.61 percent to 454,000 won.
Online game maker NCSoft remained unchanged at 931,000 won, while its rival Netmarble fell 1.22 percent to 121,000 won.
The Kosdaq fell 18.71 points, or 2.03 percent, to close at 2,996.11.
The local currency closed at 1,133.2 won against the dollar, up 7.1 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on the three-year bond added 7.1 basis points to close at 1.136 percent, and the yield on the 10-year bond gained 0.3 basis points to close at 1.56 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]