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Seoul stocks open higher amid virus woes


South Korean shares opened higher Monday amid hopes of a potential treatment for the new coronavirus that has infected more than 1.2 million people around the world.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 20.56 points, or 1.19 percent, to 1,746.00 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co., said the main index received a boost amid positive news about Gilead Sciences' remdesivir against COVID-19.

Daniel O'Day, chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences, said Saturday that multiple clinical trials for remdesivir are under way, involving thousands of patients with COVID-19 across the world.

The company has expanded production and increased supply after it learned that remdesivir may have the potential to treat the novel coronavirus.

In South Korea, the novel coronavirus has killed 183 people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses. Its virus cases topped 10,000.

Most large-cap stocks rose across the board.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. rose 0.85 percent, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. was up 1.13 percent, and top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. gained 0.23 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,237.85 won against the US dollar, down 6.95 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)