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Seoul stocks open sharply lower on growing virus scares

All News 09:26 February 24, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks started sharply lower on Monday after the number of new coronavirus cases here nearly tripled over the weekend. The Korean won also dropped sharply against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 50.87 points, or 2.35 percent, to 2,111.97 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

As of late Sunday, South Korea confirmed more than 600 cases of COVID-19 cases, with the death toll reaching six. It marked a sharp jump from roughly 200 cases confirmed late Friday.

Most confirmed cases centered around a religious organization in the country's fourth-largest city of Daegu and a hospital in the neighboring county of Cheongdo and North Gyeongsang Province.

On Sunday, South Korea raised its alert level to the highest in its latest heightened response to the confirmation of hundreds of additional cases over the weekend.

Shares lost ground across the board.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 2.53 percent, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix dropped 2.43 percent. Samsung SDI lost 3.12 percent.

No. 1 carmaker Hyundai Motor dipped 3.12 percent, and its smaller sister Kia Motors decreased 2.37 percent. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis moved down 1.75 percent.

Pharmaceutical firms also lost ground. Samsung BioLogics surrendered 1.95 percent and Celltrion decreased 2.26 percent. Hanmi Pharmaceutical shed 3.08 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,217.40 won against the U.S. dollar, down 8.20 won from the previous session's close.

colin@yna.co.kr
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