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Seoul stocks dip more than 4 pct to 6-month low on virus fears, oil crash

All News 16:09 March 09, 2020

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares tumbled by more than 4 percent on Monday as foreign investors went on a massive selling spree in the face of growing coronavirus concerns and a crash in oil prices. The Korean won sharply fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 85.45 points, or 4.2 percent, to 1,954.77, its lowest point since August 29 last year, when the index closed at 1,933.41 points.

Trading volume was heavy at 6 million shares worth 8.7 trillion won (US$7.2 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 866 to 33.

Seoul stocks dip more than 4 pct to 6-month low on virus fears, oil crash - 1

The market rout came as COVID-19 disease continues to spread across the world, while Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has triggered an oil price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its pent-up supply to markets already suffering lower demand amid an economic slowdown.

Saudi Arabia's move is aimed at punishing Russia as it balked at production cuts proposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) amid the spreading coronavirus outbreak, analysts said.

"The newly added uncertainties jolted investor confidence and sparked fears of a worldwide recession, resulting in crashes in global equities," NH Investment & Securities Co. analyst Noh Dong-kil said.

As of 3 p.m., Brent crude futures had fallen by 26 percent to $33 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 28 percent to $29 a barrel, according to the Korea National Oil Corp.

North Korea's launching of three unidentified projectiles off its east coast early on Monday had little impact on local stocks, analysts said.

Foreigners and institutions sold a combined 1.34 trillion won worth of stocks.

Individuals' net purchases reached 1.27 trillion won.

South Korea had reported a total of 7,382 confirmed coronavirus cases and 51 deaths as of Monday.

Most large-cap stocks retreated across the board.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. plunged 4.1 percent to 54,200 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix plummeted 6.2 percent to 86,900 won, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. shed 5.9 percent to close at 104,000 won, and Hanjin KAL Corp., parent firm of Korean Air Lines Co., was down 10 percent at 63,400 won.

Refiners and petrochemical firms fell sharply due to falling oil prices. Leading refiner SK Innovation Co. plunged 8.2 percent to 99,100 won, No. 3 refiner S-Oil Corp. declined 9.8 percent to 58,000 won, and Lotte Chemical Corp. was down 2.6 percent at 171,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,204.20 won against the U.S. dollar, down 11.90 won from the previous session's close.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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