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(LEAD) Seoul stocks tumble 3.3 pct on coronavirus sell-off

All Headlines 16:37 February 28, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES photo; ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks nose-dived more than 3 percent on Friday as foreigners continued their selling binge for a fifth consecutive session amid growing concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) decreased 67.88 points, or 3.30 percent, to close at 1,987.01. Trading volume was moderate at 660 million shares worth 9.67 trillion won (US$7.95 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 850 to 47.

It marked the first time for the index to finish below the psychologically resistant 2,000-point level since September last year.

This photo shows the trading room of Hana Bank in downtown Seoul on Feb. 28, 2020. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) decreased 67.88 points, or 3.30 percent, to close at 1,987.01. (Yonhap)

Foreigners' massive sell-offs started on Monday. This week, foreigners dumped a whopping 3.4 trillion won.

They offloaded a net 630 billion won worth of local stocks. Institutions bought a net 359 billion won, and individuals scooped up a net 223 billion won.

South Korea's confirmed cases of the new coronavirus surpassed 2,000 on Friday as the nation aggressively counters the fast-spreading virus with massive testing, particularly for 210,000 followers of a religious sect at the center of the epidemic.

"Investors are currently under panic on rising concerns that COVID-19 may hurt earnings of listed firms," Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co., said.

Shares lost ground across the board.

Top market cap Samsung Electronics plunged 3.04 percent to 54,200 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix slid 5.28 percent to 87,900 won. Home appliances maker LG Electronics moved down 3.21 percent to 60,400 won.

Leading pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics decreased 3.44 percent to 463,500 won, and Celltrion fell 0.29 percent to 170,000 won. Hanmi Pharmaceutical fell 3.33 percent to 261,000 won.

No. 1 carmaker Hyundai Motor nose-dived 4.96 percent to 115,000 won, and its auto parts arm Hyundai Mobis surrendered 4.11 percent to 210,000 won. Kia Motors sank 3.85 percent to 36,250 won.

Mobile carriers also finished bearish. Top player SK Telecom fell 2.07 percent to 212,500 won, and No. 2 player KT lost 1.65 percent to 23,900 won.

Hanjin KAL, the holding company of Hanjin Group, which has Korean Air Lines Co. and low-cost carrier Jin Air Co. under its wing, rose 3.38 percent to 67,200 won amid the owner family's dispute over management control.

The local currency closed at 1,213.70 won against the greenback, up 3.50 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 9 basis points to 1.104 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond lost 11 basis points to 1.180 percent.

colin@yna.co.kr
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