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Seoul stocks sink 2% on renewed concerns over virus, won falls


South Korean stocks closed sharply lower Friday as investor sentiment was hurt by renewed concerns over the new coronavirus outbreak, analysts said. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

After a choppy session, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) declined 44.48 points, or 2.04 percent, to finish at 2,132.30, the lowest in eight sessions. Trading volume was moderate at 681.3 million shares worth 14.7 trillion won ($12.2 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 720 to 160.

The KOSPI declined for a second straight day following a nine-day winning streak. It marked the lowest close in eight sessions.

"Investors were spooked by concerns about a potential second wave of infections," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co., said.

South Korean shares nosedived more than 4 percent at the opening bell, taking a cue from overnight plunges in US markets over renewed fears about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1,861.82 points, or 6.9 percent, to close at 25,128.17.

Investor sentiment remained subdued after the US Federal Reserve warned of a "long road" to economic recovery Wednesday over the virus outbreak and vowed to keep interest rates low.

The Seoul market trimmed earlier losses after retail investors hunted for bargains.

Individual investors snapped up a net 554.3 billion won, while foreigners unloaded a net 265 billion won. Institutions sold more shares than they bought at 283 billion won.

Most stocks closed in negative terrain, led by falls in tech shares and automakers.

Market leader Samsung Electronics fell 3.68 percent to 52,300 won amid uncertainties surrounding Samsung Group's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong's legal battle in a succession probe.

No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix declined 3.73 percent to 85,200 won, and home appliances giant LG Electronics lost 1.74 percent to 67,800 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor shed 4.61 percent to 103,500 won, and its affiliate Kia Motors fell 1.96 percent to 35,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,203.80 won against the US dollar, down 7.40 won from the previous session. 

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.4 basis point to 0.841 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 1.2 basis points to 1.125 percent. (Yonhap)