Kospi down 0.92% over Omicron fears
Stocks ended down for the fifth straight session Monday as investors worried about the impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi retreated 27.12 points, or 0.92 percent, to close at 2,909.32 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 832 million shares worth some 12.9 trillion won ($10.8 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 831 to 78.
Foreigners bought a net 45 billion won and institutions purchased 715 billion won, while retail investors sold 756 billion won.
The Kospi dipped below the 2,900-point level in the early morning, driven by investors' worries that the outbreak of the new Covid-19 variant may roll back recently eased social distancing measures and hamper economic recovery at home and overseas.
Earlier in the day, Korea reported 3,309 new Covid-19 cases, though none of them have been confirmed as the omicron variant.
The main stock index pared losses later as foreign and institutional investors picked up shares.
Most large caps closed lower, while financial and bio shares performed well.
Samsung Electronics closed flat at 72,300 won, and chipmaker SK hynix added 0.43 percent to 116,000 won.
Internet portal operator Naver declined 0.77 percent to 386,500 won, and Kakao fell 1.99 percent to 123,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics gained 1.61 percent to 884,000 won, while Celltrion dropped 0.7 percent to 212,500 won. Test-kit maker Seegene jumped 4.31 percent to 75,000 won.
Kakao Bank increased 3.08 percent to 70,300 won, and payment service provider Kakao Pay surged 7.19 percent to 238,500 won.
Carmaker Hyundai Motor declined 2.43 percent to 200,500 won, and battery maker SK Innovation lost 2.15 percent to 204,500 won.
The Kosdaq lost 13.55 points, or 1.35 percent, to close at 992.34.
The local currency closed at 1,193 won against the dollar, down 0.3 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year government bonds lost 2.1 basis points to 1.841 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bond fell 16.1 basis points to 1.47 percent.
BY LEE TAE-HEE, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]