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Korean stocks sharply down late Monday morning

South Korean shares remained down late Monday morning after opening sharply lower on fears of the new coronavirus outbreak further slowing economic activities throughout the globe, limiting demand at home and abroad.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 40.74 points, or 2.37 percent, to 1,676.99 as of 11:20 a.m.

On Monday, South Korea reported 78 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation's total infections to 9,661.

The United States became the new global epicenter of the virus over the weekend, with the number of its infection cases breaching the 100,000 mark and forcing Washington to extend its guideline for a voluntary shutdown for a month.

Investors fear slow economic activities in the US and other major economies may again undermine South Korea's exports, which suffered a heavy setback in 2019 due to the lengthy trade dispute between the US and China, the world's largest importers of South Koran products.

Most large caps were in negative terrain in Seoul.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 2.90 percent, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix plunged 3.12 percent.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 3.94 percent, with its smaller affiliate Kia Motors sliding 3.53 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,226.20 won against the US dollar, down 15.60 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)