South Korean stocks closed lower for a second straight day on Wednesday as investor sentiment was dented by concerns over a delay in economic recovery amid spikes in virus cases, analysts said. The Korean won rose slightly against the US dollar.
After choppy trading, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 5.29 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 2,158.88. Trading volume was high at 670 million shares worth some 11.4 trillion won ($9.5 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 464 to 376.
The index opened nearly flat following overnight losses on Wall Street and traded in negative terrain in the afternoon.
Analysts said market sentiment remained weak amid surging virus cases in the United States, coupled with gloomy economic forecasts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission.
"As the daily rise in virus cases continued to stay above 50,000 in the US, investor concerns mounted over a potential delay in economic recovery," said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities. "With investors' appetite for risky assets weakened, foreigners offloaded their shares."
Foreigners sold a net 344 billion won, while institutions dumped a net 273 billion on the Seoul bourse. Individuals purchased a net 622 billion won.
Large caps traded mixed.
Market behemoth Samsung Electronics shed 0.75 percent to 53,000 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix dipped 1.30 percent to 83,700 won.
Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics plunged 2 percent to 736,000 won, but its rival Celltrion advanced 0.97 percent to 311,500 won.
The country's largest automaker Hyundai Motor rose 0.40 percent to 99,600 won, while leading chemical firm LG Chem fell 0.58 percent to 513,000 won.
SK Biopharmaceuticals, the largest initial public offering (IPO) of the year so far, rose for the fifth consecutive session after making its market debut Thursday. The drugmaker gained 0.23 percent to close at 217,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,195.50 won against the greenback, up 0.20 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 0.4 basis point to 0.839 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 1.1 basis points to 1.105 percent. (Yonhap)