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Seoul stocks open lower on virus woes

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks opened lower Thursday, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street that stemmed from worries about the global outbreaks of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 9.42 points, or 0.32 percent, to 2,890.3 points in the first 15 minutes of trading.

Stocks came off to a weak start, led by foreign and institutional sell-offs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 1.34 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite declined 1.83 percent, as the first case of the omicron variant in the United States worsened investor sentiment in the global financial markets.

Most large caps traded lower in Seoul, except chipmakers.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 0.81 percent, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix added 2.58 percent.

Among losers, pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics lost 1.8 percent, with internet portal operator Naver retreating 0.9 percent. Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor declined 0.5 percent.

On the secondary KOSDAQ, vaccine kit-related stocks showed strong performance a day after South Korea confirmed its first cases of omicron variant infection.

Seegene, global supplier of COVID-19 test kits, had jumped 3.88 percent as of 9:33 a.m. LabGenomics, a healthcare company that specializes in molecular diagnostic kits, advanced 3.65 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,177.65 won against the US dollar, up 1.55 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)
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