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Seoul stocks, won at more than 10-year lows amid extended market rout

19 March 2020 20:12

SEOUL. KAZINFORM South Korean stocks extended their freefall to a seventh consecutive session to hit their lowest level in 11 years on Thursday as panic selling sparked by the spreading outbreak of the new coronavirus continued. The Korean won also sharply dropped against the U.S. dollar to its lowest since 2009.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) crashed 133.56 points, or 8.39 percent, to close at 1,457.64. It sank below the 1,500 level to hit its lowest point since July 2009, Yonhap reports.

Trading volume was high at 965 million shares worth 11.7 trillion won (US$9.14 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 890 to 11.

The combined market cap of the main bourse fell below 1,000 trillion won for the first time in more than eight years.

Shown in this photo taken March 19, 2020, is the dealing room of KB Kookmin Bank in western Seoul. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) crashed 133.56 points, or 8.39 percent, to close at 1,457.64. (Yonhap)

The stock trading was briefly halted during the session after the indexes nosedived at an exceptional pace. The KSOPI was down more than 9 percent at one point.

Foreigners' selling spree continued by offloading 616 billion won worth of local stocks. Their sell-offs have continued for the past 11 trading sessions, with their accumulated sell-offs reaching 8.6 trillion won.

Retail investors net bought stocks worth a net 245 billion won, and institutions scooped up a net 288 billion won.

«Each government around the globe is making efforts to reduce the economic fallout through monetary easing, but investors are still in a panic as the scope of such damage is unpredictable,» said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoon Securities Co.

South Korea even saw an uptick in daily new infections of the novel coronavirus as new clusters of infection continued to pop up in the virus-hit southeastern city of Daegu as well as Seoul and neighboring areas.

The 152 new cases, which were detected Wednesday and reversed four days of double-digit daily new infections, brought the nation's total number of infections to 8,565.

Most stocks plunged across the board.

Air carriers especially closed bearish amid the growing number of countries shutting down their borders. Top player Korean Air nosedived 24.86 percent to 13,600 won and Asiana Airlines crashed by the maximum daily permissible level of 29.94 percent to 2,270 won. Jeju Air crashed 27.54 percent to 12,500 won.

Brokerage houses also lost ground on the market's panic. Mirae Asset decreased 20.53 percent to 3,600 won, and Samsung Securities moved down 14.39 percent to 24,400 won.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics shed 5.81 percent to reach 42,950 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix plummeted 5.61 percent to 69,000 won. Battery maker Samsung SDI nosedived 17.38 percent to 183,000 won.

Top carmaker Hyundai Motor sank 10.34 percent to 65,900 won, and its auto parts arm Hyundai Mobis decreased 8.51 percent to 129,000 won. Kia Motors fell 10.87 percent to 129,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,285.70 won against the U.S. dollar, down 40 won from the previous session's close. It was the lowest level since the 1,293.0 won posted on July 14, 2009.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 14.3 basis points to 1.193 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond increased 17.8 basis points to 1.434 percent.

Keywords: Economy, World News,