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Seoul stocks sink 3 pct, won down sharply late Monday morning on virus fears

All News 11:32 February 24, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks extended losses late Monday morning, shedding 3 percent, after the country added 161 more cases of new coronavirus in the day to bring the total infections to over 760.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) had fallen 66.58 points, or 3.08 percent, to 2,096.26 as of 11:20 a.m.

South Korea also reported one more death from the new coronavirus that emerged in China, bringing the nation's death toll to seven.

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 in North Gyeongsang Province.

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

Most large caps were in negative terrain.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics dipped 3.21 percent, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix decreased 3.01 percent. Home appliances maker LG Electronics moved down 3.78 percent.

Chemical firms also lost ground, with No. 1 LG Chem falling 3.22 percent and LG Household & Health Care falling 4.55 percent. Top refiner SK Innovation moved down 3.83 percent.

Shinhan Financial surrendered 4.21 percent, and KB Financial decreased 4.13 percent. Samsung Life Insurance lost 4.77 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,216.85 won against the U.S. dollar, sharply down 7.65 won from the previous session's close.

South Korea warned it will take "necessary measures" if there is increased volatility on the currency market caused by growing off-risk sentiment stemming from the new coronavirus outbreak.

Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom noted the volatility in the financial market may continue to expand for some time due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

On Friday, the Korean won closed at 1,209.2 won against the U.S. dollar, plunging 10.5 won from the previous session's close.

The vice finance minister added the government is reviewing all available steps to help minimize the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak.

colin@yna.co.kr
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