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Seoul stocks turn lower late Wednesday morning amid virus woes

All News 11:26 March 11, 2020

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- Seoul stocks turned lower late Wednesday morning as investors awaited details from the U.S.'s stimulus plans to counter the economic fallout from the coronavirus following the recent market rout.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price (KOSPI) Index had fallen 28.57 points, or 1.46 percent, to 1,934.36 as of 11:15 a.m.

The main index opened slightly higher but soon retreated as investors took a wait-and-see attitude towards the U.S. relief measures, analysts said.

"Investors remain cautious as the Trump administration has proposed a payroll tax break instead of aggressive fiscal spending in his stimulus plans. If the U.S. measures appear to not be enough strong to soothe volatile markets, the market chaos may continue," Noh Dong-kil, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co., said.

On Tuesday, the KOSPI ended 0.4 percent higher at 1,962.93, rebounding from a six-week low sparked by growing COVID-19 concerns and a crash in oil prices.

Foreigners continued to sell local stocks amid risk-off sentiment after offloading 3 trillion won (US$2.5 billion) worth of stocks in the past four sessions.

Foreigners and institutions sold a combined 666 billion won worth of stocks, exceeding individuals' stock purchases valued at 633 billion won.

Large-cap stocks were mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. fell 3.5 percent, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. declined 0.5 percent, and state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. shed 3.9 percent.

Among gainers, leading steelmaker POSCO rose 1.1 percent, No. 3 refiner S-Oil Corp. climbed 2.6 percent, and dominant tobacco company KT&G Corp. gained 0.1 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,192.85 won against the U.S. dollar, up 0.35 won from the previous session's close.

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