(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom, photo)
SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) — South Korean shares closed sharply lower Monday, dipping to the lowest point in two weeks on renewed fears over the new coronavirus prompted by a recent spike in the number of new cases. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 41.17 points, or 1.93 percent, to close at 2,093.48. It marks the first time in two weeks since June 15 that the index finished below the 2,100 mark.
Trading volume was moderate at about 632 million shares worth some 8.9 trillion won (US$7.4 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 737 to 135.
Foreigners sold a net 468 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 939 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 456 billion won, extending their selling streak to a ninth session.
The drop in the index came amid rising investor concerns over the resurgence in new COVID-19 cases, analysts said.
“Investor sell-offs led the index’s fall, as the soaring cases in the U.S. and globally fueled related concerns,” Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
The worsening U.S.-China political friction over China’s Hong Kong legislation also contributed to the selling mode, he added.
As of Sunday, the global toll has surpassed what experts have called two milestones — 500,000 confirmed deaths and 10 million confirmed infections.
New cases in the United States, one of South Korea’s largest trade partners, grew 1.7 percent. Florida reported a 6.4 percent increase in infections, with Arizona exceeding its weekly average for a fourth day.
South Korea added 42 cases, including 30 local infections Monday, raising the total caseload to 12,757.
The tally marked a drop from 62 new cases reported Sunday and 51 additional cases identified Saturday, but the authorities continued to warn against cluster infections.
Most large caps finished in negative terrain.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 1.69 percent to 52,400 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix retreated 1.18 percent to 83,600 won.
Leading pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics plunged 3.21 percent to 784,000 won, and Celltrion slipped 0.48 percent to 311,000 won.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 2.30 percent to 97,700 won, with its smaller affiliate Kia Motors falling 2.87 percent to 32,100 won.
The local currency closed at 1,198.60 won per dollar, up 2.00 won from the previous session’s close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 3.1 basis points to 0.842 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 2.4 basis points to 1.095 percent.