South Korea’s key stock index plunged below the 3,000-point threshold Tuesday for the first time in nearly seven months on the back of losses in top-listed firms.
The benchmark Kospi tumbled 57.01 points, or 1.89 percent, to close at 2,962.17 points, the lowest closing since March 10, when it marked 2,958.12 points. It was also the first time the index dropped below 3,000 points at the closing bell, when the index closed the session at 2,996.35 on March 24. On the back of high liquidity, the index had surpassed 3,000 points in January for the first time in its 38-year history.
The index began trading lower at 2,998.17 points and accelerated the downward trend as foreign investors sold a net 621.1 billion won ($523.3 million). Offshore investors pushed for a selling spree for two days in a row.
Most large caps were in negative terrain, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics losing 1.37 percent. No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix slipped 2.1 percent, while pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics and tech giant Kakao retreated 7.2 percent and 4.72 percent, respectively.
Multiple factors appeared to have affected the main bourse’s retreat, market experts said. Escalating inflation concerns, uncertainty surrounding the US debt ceiling, the debt crisis involving Evergrande Group, one of China’s biggest property developers, and fresh US-China concerns over trade have resulted in global stock markets experiencing significant falls, they said.
Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.94 percent and the S&P 500 shed 1.3 percent. The Nasdaq did even worse than the other two major indexes, dropping 2.14 percent as a tech-led sell-off battered the index.
Market watchers forecast that the local stock market is likely to suffer extended choppy trading for a while in the face of lingering uncertainties.
“New market variables in addition to unsolved existing factors have increased market volatilities,” said Lee Kyung-min, a market analyst at Daishin Securities. “As the Kospi index has faced a market correction for three months, it may rebound in the short term rather than nose-dive further.”
Kiwoom Securities analyst Han Ji-young said the market needs time to ease escalating jitters. Starting with Samsung Electronics’ upcoming third-quarter earnings announcement, local companies’ solid quarterly performance results are needed for providing new momentum to the market, the market expert said.
Meanwhile, the nation’s tech-heavy index lost 27.83 points, or 2.83 percent, to close at 955.37 points. It was the largest daily percentage drop since May 24, when the index plunged 1.79 percent to close at 948.37 points.
The Kosdaq index shed more than 2 percent for a second consecutive session, while the local stock market closed Monday for a substitute holiday recognizing National Foundation Day on Sunday. Retail investors unloaded a net 233.1 billion won from the market.
The local currency closed unchanged at 1,188.7 won against the US dollar.
By Jie Ye-eun (firstname.lastname@example.org