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Seoul stocks open sharply lower on U.S. losses, sinking oil prices

All News 09:29 March 09, 2020

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares opened sharply lower Monday, tracking losses on Wall Street, as investors rushed to safer assets amid the spreading coronavirus outbreak and falling oil prices.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price (KOSPI) Index plunged 59.23 points, or 2.9 percent, to 1,980.99 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

The main index fell below the psychologically important 2,000-point level as investors braced for continuing virus angst and a plunge in global oil prices.

Oil plunged more than 20 percent after Saudi Arabia slashed its selling price. The world's top oil exporter is set to raise its production after the collapse of OPEC's supply cut deal with Russia.

But North Korea's firing of three unidentified projectiles off its east coast early on Monday is having little impact on local stocks, they said.

Foreigners and institutions sold a combined 210 billion won (US$176 million) worth of stocks, outpacing individuals' stock purchases valued at 205 billion won.

Most large-cap stocks declined across the board.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. fell 3.2 percent, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. declined 3.9 percent, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. shed 3.2 percent and national flag carrier Korean Air Lines Co. was down 2.9 percent.

Among gainers, state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. rose 4.3 percent and Lotte Chemical Corp. climbed 0.9 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,195.05 won against the U.S. dollar, down 2.75 won from the previous session's close.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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