Stocks fall 1 percent as virus surge weighs on sentiment
Stocks plunged nearly 1 percent Thursday as investors turned risk-averse amid a surge in new coronavirus cases. The won fell against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi retreated 32.66 points, or 0.99 percent, to close at 3,252.68 points. The figures mark the steepest daily fall since May 13.
Trading volume was moderate at about 1.5 billion shares worth some 16.5 trillion won ($14.4 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 777 to 106.
Foreigners sold a net 495 billion won, while retail investors bought 1.1 trillion won. Institutions offloaded a net 627 billion won.
The Kospi got off to a strong start, taking a cue from the U.S. Federal Reserve's minutes that signaled that the world's largest economy would not advance its time frame for tapering its asset purchasing program.
The key stock index pared its gains in the morning session as Korea reported the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since the virus first hit the country on Jan. 20, 2020.
Health authorities extended the current distancing curbs in the greater Seoul area for one week starting Wednesday, warning it may tighten the social distancing measures to Level 4, the highest level, if the case number continues to rise.
"Foreign investors sold off a bulk of local stocks amid the resurgence of Covid-19 cases, in addition to impacts from the expiration of options today," Bookook Securities analyst Lee Won said.
Most large caps closed lower in Seoul.
Samsung Electronics retreated 1.11 percent to 79,900 won, and chipmaker SK hynix lost 1.62 percent to 121,500 won.
Internet portal operator Naver climbed 1.08 percent to 422,000 won, and its rival Kakao gained 1.24 percent to 163,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics moved up 2.13 percent to 863,000 won, and automaker Hyundai Motor shed 1.08 percent to 229,500 won.
The Kosdaq fell 12.88 points, or 1.23 percent, to close at 1,034.48.
The local currency closed at 1,145 won against the dollar, up 6.9 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year government bonds lost 5.1 basis points to 1.359 percent, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond lost 3.3 basis points to 1.32 percent.
BY LEE TAE-HEE [email@example.com],YONHAP