(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom; CHANGES photo)
SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main bourse closed sharply lower Friday as renewed concerns over the global economic slowdown prompted investors to shun risk, analysts said. The local currency weakened against the greenback.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 28.35 points, or 1.31 percent, to finish at 2,137.44, which is the lowest since Jan. 23, when the figure came to 2,127.78. Trading volume was moderate at 308.82 million shares worth 4.44 trillion won (US$3.91 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 584 to 241.
The index opened lower, tracking Wall Street losses, and moved further down to extend its losing run for a sixth straight session.
Foreign and institutional investors offloaded a net 175.1 billion won and 126.8 billion worth of local shares, while retailers bought 294.3 billion won worth of shares.
"Fresh concerns over global economic growth appear to dampen investor sentiment, while no tangible progress has been made regarding trade frictions between the U.S. and China," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said.
The European Central Bank on Thursday slashed its growth and inflation forecasts while deciding to defer interest rate hikes to next year and offer banks a new round of cheap loans, citing continued weakness and pervasive uncertainty.
The news that China's exports plummeted more than 20 percent in February also stoked fears over slowing global demand, Seo noted.
Losses were wide and deep across the board in the Seoul bourse, with tech blue chips coming under heavy downward pressure.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics sank 1.46 percent to 43,800 won, and chip giant SK hynix dropped 2.06 percent to 66,700 won.
Leading chemical firm LG Chem skidded 0.41 percent to 364,500 won, and top carmaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 4.38 percent to 120,000 won.
Big-cap bio firms also lost ground. Major biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion fell 0.48 percent to 206,000 won, and Samsung BioLogics decreased 0.4 percent to 373,500 won.
The local currency was trading at 1,136.20 won against the U.S. dollar, down 7.2 won from the previous session.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 1.5 basis points to 1.802 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds shed 2.1 basis points to 1.863 percent.
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