Stock market in South Korea (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks fell for the fifth consecutive session Wednesday as a record-high number of COVID-19 cases dented investor sentiment. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) retreated 22.57 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 3,220.62 points.
Trading volume was high at 608.3 million shares worth some 18.95 trillion won ($16.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 563 to 299.
Foreigners offloaded a net 1.6 trillion won worth of shares, while institutions sold a net 191.5 billion won. Retail investors scooped up a net 1.77 trillion won.
The key index got off to a weak start as the country reported a record number of daily coronavirus cases of 2,223.
The daily coronavirus cases have recently been on the rise, remaining above 1,000 for over a month, despite the implementation of a semi-lockdown in the capital area.
The Kospi extended losses as semiconductor shares slumped on expectations of falling memory chip prices.
Market researcher TrendForce said in a report Tuesday that personal computer DRAM prices are forecast to fall by up to 5 percent on-quarter in the final quarter of the year due to PC manufacturers' high inventory.
The forecast weighed on semiconductor-related shares overnight on Wall Street and took a toll on local chip stocks, according to analysts.
"Concerns of falling DRAM prices ... had an impact on Samsung Electronics and SK hynix," Mirae Asset Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said. "Investor sentiment towards major electronic shares weakened, while increased foreign selling added pressure (on the index)."
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics skid 2.12 percent to 78,500 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix tumbled 6.22 percent to 105,500 won.
Internet portal operator Naver slipped 0.34 percent to 445,000 won, and messaging giant Kakao slipped 1.71 percent to 144,000 won.
Top carmaker Hyundai Motor lost 0.23 percent to 218,500 won, while chemical giant LG Chem inched down 0.12 percent to 851,000 won.
Video game developer Krafton plummeted 10.35 percent to 407,000 won on its second day of trading.
Among gainers, top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics jumped 2.96 percent to 975,000 won, while Celltrion surged 4.81 percent to 283,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,156.4 won to the US dollar, down 6.6 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)