Seoul stocks inch down as Covid cases spook investors
Stocks closed lower Monday as investors turned cautious over rising coronavirus cases in parts of Asia and China's latest economic data that partially missed expectations. The won fell against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi fell 18.80 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,134.52 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 758.87 million shares worth some 14.33 trillion won ($12.6 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 587 to 277.
Foreigners offloaded a net 602.2 billion won, and institutions sold a net 143.5 billion won. Retail investors purchased a net 727.4 billion won.
The main index got off to a firm start, tracking a Wall Street rally on Friday, but turned lower as investor sentiment was weighed down by rising Covid-19 cases across Asia.
Taiwan and Singapore have imposed new restrictions against the virus to curb a recent spike in new infections.
"Foreigners continued to sell stocks on growing concerns over damage to the global supply chain," Mirae Asset Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Investors also weighed China's April economic data released earlier in the day.
"[China's] industrial output rose 9.8 percent on-year, matching expectations, while retail sales increased 17.7 percent, falling short of estimates of 24.9 percent," Seo added.
In Seoul, Samsung Electronics retreated 0.62 percent to 79,600 won, and chipmaker SK hynix declined 0.84 percent to 117,500 won.
Chemical firm LG Chem gained 0.7 percent to 860,000 won, while electric vehicle battery maker Samsung SDI slipped 0.48 percent to 623,000 won.
Internet portal operator Naver added 0.44 percent to 344,000 won, and its rival Kakao gained 1.38 percent to 110,500 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics slumped 7.81 percent to 874,000 won, while local drugmaker SK Bioscience surged 9.25 percent to 159,500 won after it said its production facility of AstraZeneca and Novavax Covid-19 vaccines received certification approval from the European Medicines Agency.
Automaker Hyundai Motor shed 0.87 percent to 227,000 won.
The Kosdaq lost 4.22 points, or 0.44 percent, to close at 962.50.
The local currency closed at 1,134.8 won against the dollar, up 6.2 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year government bonds lost 0.9 basis point to 1.107 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bond fell 3.4 basis points to 1.62 percent.
BY LEE TAE-HEE, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]