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(LEAD) Seoul stocks rebound from 6-week low, Korean won sharply higher

All News 16:32 March 10, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS photo, bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- Seoul stocks rebounded on Tuesday from a six-week low sparked by the oil price crash and growing virus angst, as investors were relieved by a slowdown in new infections here and additional stimulus measures around the globe. The Korean won sharply rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 8.16 points, or 0.42 percent, to 1,962.93. In the previous session, the KOSPI plunged 4.2 percent to its lowest level since August 29 last year as foreign investors continued to offload local stocks.

Trading volume was moderate at 628.24 million shares worth 8.9 trillion won (US$7.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 522 to 318.

This photo taken on March 10, 2020 shows the dealing room of KEB Hana Bank in Myeongdong, central Seoul. (Yonhap)

"The index ended in the positive territory as institutions bought local stocks on bargain hunting. And investors resumed buying on (U.S. President Donald) Trump's comments that he will seek measures to help virus-hit businesses," Noh Dong-kil, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co., said over the phone.

Monday's stock sell-off was fueled by COVID-19's continued global spread and by Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, starting an oil price war with Russia, slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash pent-up supply to markets already suffering lower demand amid an economic slowdown.

Saudi Arabia's move is widely seen as a step to punish Russia as it balked at production cuts proposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) amid worsening coronavirus woes.

Brent crude, the basis for international oil prices, plunged 24 percent to $34 a barrel on Monday from $45 a session earlier, according to the Korea National Oil Corp. But on Tuesday, oil prices rose slightly.

Institutions and individuals bought a combined 920 billion won worth of stocks, offsetting foreign selling valued at 987 billion won.

Before the market opening, Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom and Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol made a verbal intervention, saying financial authorities will take timely measures to stabilize the foreign exchange market if there is an excessive one-sided movement.

South Korea had reported a total of 7,513 confirmed coronavirus cases and 54 deaths as of Tuesday.

Large-cap stocks were mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. rose 0.7 percent to 54,600 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix climbed 2.5 percent to 89,100 won, national flag carrier Korean Air Lines Co. gained 0.6 percent to close at 23,550 won and leading refiner SK Innovation Co. was up 1.4 percent at 100,500 won.

Among decliners, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. fell 1.9 percent to 102,000 won, state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. declined 3.5 percent to 22,000 won and No. 2 air carrier Asiana Airlines Inc. shed 1 percent to close at 4,005 won.

The local currency closed at 1,193.20 won against the U.S. dollar, up 11.00 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, fell. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 4.4 basis points to 1.082 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond climbed 5.6 basis points to 1.183 percent.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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