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Seoul stocks slip after brief recovery

An electronic signboard at Hana Bank’s dealing room in Seoul on Wednesday morning shows the nation’s benchmark Kospi and secondary tech-heavy Kosdaq indexes. (Yonhap)
An electronic signboard at Hana Bank’s dealing room in Seoul on Wednesday morning shows the nation’s benchmark Kospi and secondary tech-heavy Kosdaq indexes. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks headed south Wednesday -- after a brief rally a day earlier -- as the number of confirmed COVID-19 virus cases here reached over 1,000. The local currency also dipped against the US dollar, closing at 1,216.90 won -- down 6.60 won from the previous session’s close.

The benchmark Kospi opened sharply lower at 2,064.07 -- sinking 39.54 points, or 1.88 percent, from the previous session. The weak start continued through the day, but rose slightly to close at 2,076.77. It even dipped below the 2,060-point level in early morning. 

The local stock market plunged nearly 4 percent on Monday, the sharpest fall in 16 months, followed by a 1.16 percent rebound in the following session as investors scooped up undervalued assets.

Foreign investors offloaded a net 886.4 billion won ($728.7 million) worth of stocks, weighing down the bourse. The tech-heavy secondary Kosdaq also fell 2.32 points, or 0.35 percent, closing at 654.63. Foreigners dumped 182.6 billion won of local shares.

The country reported the 12th fatality from the new coronavirus, including a Mongolian national who was hospitalized for a liver transplant, and 169 new confirmed cases Wednesday morning, bringing the total number of infections here to 1,146. 

Major stock market indexes suffered a sharp decline on Wall Street on Tuesday as a possible COVID-19 pandemic globally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 879.44 points, 3.15 percent, closing at 27,081.36. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 also crashed 2.77 percent and 3.03 percent, respectively, the same day.

“The US stock market’s tumble due to the rapid increase of the COVID-19 virus confirmed cases negatively affected investor sentiments,” said Lee Won, an analyst at Bookook Securities. “To avoid the new coronavirus uncertainty, foreigners have accelerated their sell-off of Korean assets.”

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