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Seoul stocks dip for 3rd day on virus fears, economic woes


South Korean stocks closed lower for a third consecutive session on Friday, as investor sentiment worsened over the economic fallout from the new coronavirus pandemic. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 15.75 points, or 0.71 percent, to close at 2,200.44. Trading volume was high at about 979 million shares worth some 16.1 trillion won ($14 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 583 to 279.

Foreigners bought a net 87 billion won, while institutions offloaded a net 363 billion won. Retail investors bought a net 286 billion won.

Stocks closed bearish as investor sentiment weakened on disappointing economic indices at home and overseas.

South Korea warned that the country's export slump is likely to be deeper and prolonged due to a resurgence of the virus across the world.

Asia's fourth-largest economy contracted 3.3 percent in the second quarter from a quarter earlier, marking the worst reading in more than 20 years, according to the Bank of Korea.

The increase in weekly US jobless claims also added to investor concerns. In addition, the political tensions between South Korea's two largest trade partners raised outside risks.

"The US-China tension was partly reflected in the market, and the valuation pressure on large caps has been a pull-down factor," said Kiwoom Securities analyst Kim Yoo-mi.

Most large caps closed lower.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics inched up 0.18 percent to 54,200 won, with No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gaining 1.58 percent to 83,700 won.

Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics dropped 2.58 percent to 775,000 won, and leading steelmaker POSCO retreated 0.77 percent to 194,000 won.

Top game publisher NCSOFT dropped 1.11 percent to 802,000 won.

The country's largest automaker, Hyundai Motor, shed 1.61 percent to 122,500 won, with internet giant Naver losing 1.06 percent to 281,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,201.5 won per dollar, down 4.2 won from the previous session's close. 

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, mostly closed higher. But the yield on three-year Treasurys rose 0.1 basis point to 0.799 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 0.1 basis point to 1.049 percent. (Yonhap)