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Seoul stocks open nearly flat on virus concerns

Stock market in South Korea (Yonhap)
Stock market in South Korea (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks opened nearly flat Thursday amid lingering concerns over the pandemic.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) rose 1.22 point, or 0.04 percent, to 3,183.6 points in the first 15 minutes of trading.

Stocks came off to a muted start after South Korean health authorities said the country may need stronger social distancing measures if daily COVID-19 cases remain high throughout the rest of the week.

The country added 731 new cases Wednesday, the highest since Jan. 7, with authorities warning that the number may rise further.

In Seoul, market kingpin Samsung Electronics retreated 0.36 percent, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix added 1.09 percent.

Internet portal giant Naver moved down 0.26 percent, and its rival Kakao surged 10.26 percent on its first trading after it split its shares fivefold. Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor declined 1.29 percent.

Leading chemical maker LG Chem slipped 0.22 percent, and top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics fell 0.89 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,115.65 won to the US dollar as of 9:15 a.m., up 0.95 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)