Stocks slump over China tensions, Covid's third wave
Stocks slumped Monday as investors took a wait-and-see approach on the rise in U.S.-China tensions and new coronavirus cases around the world. The won fell against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi fell 4.97 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 3,036.04 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 1.3 billion shares worth some 16.5 trillion won ($14.6 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 446 to 415.
Foreigners bought a net 50 billion won, while institutions sold 711 billion won. Retail investors purchased a net 663 billion won.
The Kospi snapped its two-day winning streak after choppy trading as a U.S.-China political spat over human rights in Xinjiang deepened.
China imposed retaliatory sanctions on U.S. and Canadian individuals and entities over the weekend. Earlier last week, the communist country also sanctioned European politicians.
"The political tussle between the U.S. and China negatively affected investor sentiment," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Investor concerns grew as U.S. Covid-19 cases moved back up, with a third wave of the virus spreading in Europe. New Covid-19 infections topped 126 million over the weekend around the world, with the death toll exceeding 2.7 million.
However, heightened forecasts of better corporate earnings in the first quarter prevented the Kospi from falling further.
In Seoul, top cap Samsung Electronics edged up 0.12 percent to 81,600 won, while chipmaker SK hynix decreased 2.22 percent to 132,000 won.
Internet portal Naver lost 2.87 percent to 372,000 won, while its rival Kakao declined 1.52 percent to 487,500 won.
Chemical firm LG Chem retreated 0.37 percent to 799,000 won. Pharmaceutical giant Celltion jumped 5.25 percent to 330,500 won as the European Medicines Agency confirmed that the firm's drug can be used to treat Covid-19.
The country's largest automaker Hyundai Motor closed unchanged at 215,500 won.
The Kosdaq fell 2.6 points, or 0.27 percent to close at 954.10.
The local currency closed at 1,131.7 won against the dollar, up 2.4 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on the three-year bond added 0.3 basis points to close at 1.119 percent, and the yield on the 10-year bond gained 4.7 basis points to close at 1.68 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]