Seoul stocks opened sharply lower Friday as Japan is set to remove South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners later in the day and a trade row between the United States and China is escalating.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index crashed 23.10 points, or 1.15 percent, to reach 1,994.24 in the first 15 minutes of trading.
It marked the first time in seven months that the index was below the 2,000-mark during a trading session.
Tokyo, which began implementing tougher restrictions on South Korea-bound shipments of three key materials vital for the production of semiconductors and displays last month, is moving to remove Seoul from the so-called whitelist of streamlined export destinations, with the decision set to be approved by its Cabinet later in the day.
Adding to this, the trade row between Washington and Beijing is again heating up with President Trump announcing that his country will levy taxes on a broad range of Chinese goods starting from September.
The world's two largest economies held trade talks in Beijing early this week, but failed to narrow differences on sticky issues.
Shares lost ground across the market.
Market kingpin Samsung Electronics moved down 1 percent, and LG Electronics shed 1.56 percent. No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix decreased 2.32 percent, and LG Display fell 3.47 percent.
LG Chem plunged 1.05 percent, and LG Household & Health Care slid 1.12 percent. Top oil refiner SK Innovation dropped 2.33 percent.
No. 1 steelmaker POSCO fell 1.79 percent, and Korea Zinc lost 2.06 percent.
The local currency was trading at 1,194.25 won against the US dollar, sharply down 5.75 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)