Stocks retreat as Delta variant worries build
Stocks retreated Thursday amid concerns of new coronavirus variants that weakened investor appetite for risky assets. The won fell against the dollar.
The secondary Kosdaq index advanced 0.55 percent, or 5.68 points, to close at another historic high of 1,035.64 points, thanks to its high portion of bio and pharmaceutical stocks.
The benchmark Kospi lost 14.62 points, or 0.44 percent, to close at 3,282.06 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 1.1 billion shares worth some 15.7 trillion won ($13.9 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 525 to 317.
Foreigners sold a net 409 billion won, while retail investors bought 1.3 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 875 billion won.
Stocks got off to a lackluster start after Korean authorities delayed the easing of the distancing measures in the greater Seoul area by a week, citing risks from the highly contagious Delta strain of Covid-19.
"Risks about the Delta strain seem to have pulled down cyclical stocks, with investors weighing the virus's impact on individual stocks," said Meritz Securities analyst Lee Jin-woo.
Bio shares advanced in Seoul, while most other large caps slumped.
Samsung Electronics retreated 0.74 percent to 80,100 won, and chipmaker SK hynix lost 2.35 percent to 124,500 won.
Internet portal operator Naver declined 1.08 percent to 413,000 won, and its rival Kakao fell 1.84 percent to 160,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics added 1.66 percent to 855,000 won, while Celltrion retreated 0.37 percent to 267,500 won.
SK Innovation plunged 8.8 percent to 269,500 won after the firm said it is considering a spin-off of its battery unit.
Automaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.04 percent to 242,000 won, and its sister company Kia added 1 percent to 90,500 won.
Chemical firm LG Chem decreased 0.59 percent to 845,000 won, while rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI jumped 3.72 percent to 724,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,133.1 won against the dollar, up 7 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year government bonds added 2.1 basis points to 1.469 percent, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond lost 0.3 basis point to 1.47 percent.
BY LEE TAE-HEE [email@example.com],YONHAP