The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks retreated for a fourth consecutive session Wednesday, as the resurgence of the new coronavirus weakened investor sentiment for risk. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slumped 16.79 points, or 0.52 percent, to close at 3,215.91 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 973 million shares worth some 14.7 trillion won ($12.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 283 to 562.
Foreigners sold a net 511 billion won, and institutions offloaded a net 275 billion won, while retail investors bought 748 billion won.
Stocks got off to a strong start as bargain hunters sought to buy oversold stocks after the benchmark index lost nearly 2 percent in the past three sessions amid rising concerns over the fourth wave of the pandemic in the country.
Hopes of an economic rebound also backed the stock prices, with the country's exports increasing 32.8 percent on-year in the first 20 days of July.
But the key stock index increasingly lost ground as new COVID-19 cases soared to a fresh high of over 1,700 on Wednesday.
Cluster infections of highly contagious variants fanned investor worries about the pandemic's impact on corporate earnings.
"The hike in COVID-19 cases seems to have boxed the foreign exchange rate at a 1,150 won-range, and increased foreign selling," Daeshin Securities analyst Lee Kyung-min said.
Market kingpin Samsung Electronics lost 0.63 percent to 78,500 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix declined 1.27 percent to 117,000 won.
Internet portal operator Naver decreased 2.51 percent to 428,000 won, with its rival Kakao plunging 4.61 percent to 145,000 won.
Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics retreated 1.31 percent to 901,000 won, and Celltrion fell 2.01 percent to 267,500 won.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 0.44 percent to 228,000 won, while leading chemical firm LG Chem moved down 0.61 percent to 810,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,154 won to the US dollar, down 3.6 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 2.7 basis points to 1.383 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 1.9 basis points to 1.628 percent. (Yonhap)