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Kospi dips below 1,600-point mark, lowest since May 2010

A sign at a dealing room of KB Kookmin Bank in Seoul shows the Wednesday's closing prices of two major stock indexes. (Yonhap)
A sign at a dealing room of KB Kookmin Bank in Seoul shows the Wednesday's closing prices of two major stock indexes. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks crashed further Wednesday, hitting the lowest point in a decade, as the novel coronavirus panic spread despite stimulus packages released around the globe.

The benchmark Kospi opened slightly higher at 1,686.12 -- up 13.68 points, or 0.82 percent, from the previous session. The index, however, slipped throughout the day and suddenly plunged in the afternoon, closing at 1,591.2. It marked the lowest closing price since May 26, 2010, at 1,582.12 points.

Offshore investors offloaded 589.6 billion won ($473 million) of their shares, posting a net-selling for the tenth consecutive trading session dating to March 5. They have hammered about 8.29 trillion won of stocks during the cited period. Institutional investors also dumped 431.5 billion won of stocks during Wednesday’s trading session.

The tech-heavy Kosdaq began at 520.79 points, up 6.06 points or 1.18 percent from the previous session’s close. The index then drastically fell in late afternoon to close at 485.14 points. It was the first time for the index to reach below the 500-point mark during a trading session since Jan. 3, 2014, with 499.33. At the same time, it recorded the lowest closing price since Dec. 19, 2013 with 484.17 points.

Foreign and institutional investors net sold 122.9 billion won and 7 billion won, respectively, weighing down the bourse.

“As the number of confirmed COVID-19 virus cases increased in the US around afternoon (Korea time), futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq fell. It triggered foreign investors’ sell-off spree and attributed a slump in Kospi market,” said Lee Won, an analyst from Bookook Securities.

The local currency closed at 1,245.7 won against the greenback -- weakening 17.5 won from the previous session’s close -- the highest value since June 11, 2010, at 1,246.1 won per dollar.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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