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(LEAD) Seoul stocks almost flat, won sharply down

All News 16:43 March 30, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom, photo)

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished almost unchanged Monday paring earlier losses on new stimulus measures aimed at minimizing the fallout from the spread of the new coronavirus. The local currency dropped sharply against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 0.61 point, or 0.04 percent, to close at 1,717.12. Trading volume was high at 753 million shares worth 8.97 trillion won (US$7.32 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 615 to 256.

The index earlier lost more than 2 percent after opening sharply lower on fears that a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in the United States may further reduce economic activities in the world's largest economy.

Washington extended its guidelines for a voluntary shutdown after the number of the country's infection cases breached 100,000 over the weekend.

A dealer walks by a screen showing the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index at a Kookmin Bank trading room in Seoul on March 30, 2020. (Yonhap)

"The increase in the number of infections in the U.S. will have a negative influence on investors, especially when the increase in the number of new infections in Europe is not slowing," said Noh Dong-kil, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

Investor sentiments were apparently lifted after Seoul proposed a second supplementary budget as part of its latest support package, this time targeting individuals and households.

The finance ministry said it will spend 9.1 trillion won to provide up to 1 million won in emergency relief aid to about 14 million low-income households here.

To this end, the government will soon submit a request for a 7.1 trillion-won extra budget to the National Assembly. It will come in addition to the 11.7 trillion won in extra budget it secured earlier this month.

Foreign investors dumped a net 421 billion won, extending their selling streak to an 18th consecutive session. Institutions scooped up a net 218 billion won, while individuals purchased a net 198 billion won.

Large caps closed mixed.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics lost 0.93 percent to 47,850 won, but No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix added 0.48 percent to 83,700 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor shed 1.16 percent to 85,400 won, while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors plunged 2.16 percent to 24,950 won.

The local currency closed at 1,224.40 won against the dollar, down 13.80 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 3.8 basis points to 1.098 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 5.0 basis points to 1.316 percent.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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