Seoul stocks opened higher on Monday on a technical rebound and comments by the Federal Reserve chairman on a possible rate cut to reassure the markets hit by the spreading coronavirus outbreak.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 2.60 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,989.61 in the first 15 minutes of trading.
Investor sentiment appears to be somewhat buoyed after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell signaled on Friday (US time) that the central bank was open to a rate cut if necessary, as concerns over the new coronavirus continue to escalate, analysts said.
"New coronavirus infections jumped sharply across Europe on Sunday, with Italy reporting hundreds of new cases. It's keeping global stock markets from rebounding further despite the Fed chairman's comments," Ha In-hwan, an analyst at Meritz Securities Co., said.
It has been more than a month since COVID-19 began to impact global markets. The main index plunged 12.2 percent last week and 6.2 percent in January.
South Korea has reported a total of 3,736 confirmed coronavirus cases, while the death toll reached 21 on Sunday. The country's first case came on Jan. 20.
Foreigners sold 3.5 trillion won worth of local stocks in the past week, exceeding individual and institutional buying valued at 3.3 trillion won.
Large-cap stocks were mixed Monday morning.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 0.4 percent, but No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix rose 1.5 percent. No. 2 carmaker Kia Motors climbed 0.2 percent, and leading car battery maker LG Chem Ltd. shed 0.5 percent. The local currency was trading at 1,203.75 won against the US dollar, up 9.95 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)