(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom, photo)
SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks sank 4 percent Wednesday as foreign investors continued to sell local shares on fears of the economic fallout from the new coronavirus outbreak. The local currency dropped sharply against the U.S. greenback.
After a choppy session, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 69.18 points, or 3.94 percent, to close at 1,685.46. Trading volume was high at 123 million shares worth some 11.9 trillion won (US$9.67 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 574 to 291.
The index opened slightly lower, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street but moved to positive terrain on better-than-expected exports. South Korea's outbound shipments slipped 0.2 percent on-year to $46.9 billion in March.
"Exports in March fell short of the market consensus but were still better than anticipated, considering the market concerns created by the spread of COVID-19," Kiwoom Securities analyst Kim Yoo-mi said.
Kim added the slight drop in March may also be attributed to a recent plunge in global oil prices that pulled down the prices of petroleum and petrochemical products, key export items for Asia's fourth-largest economy.
The stock market lost steam as foreigners again offloaded local shares, extending their selling streak to a 20th consecutive session.
Foreign investors dumped a net 575 billion won, and institutions sold a net 620 billion won. Retail investors scooped up a net 1.15 trillion won.
Still, analysts here insisted South Korea's stock market may increasingly show different movements from those of the United States down the road.
"The stock market may show different movements from that of the U.S. because the coronavirus outbreak appears to be stabilizing in China and South Korea," said Park Jong-dae, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment.
South Korea has so far reported over 9,800 infection cases of COVID-19, but its daily increase has recently remained at around 100 or fewer cases. The country added 101 new cases to the total Wednesday.
Most large caps ended in negative terrain.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics plunged 4.08 percent to 45,800 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix tumbled 5.88 percent to 78,400 won.
Top pharmaceutical company Samsung BioLogics lost 6.12 percent to 452,500 won, and leading carmaker Hyundai Motor dipped 3.72 percent to 85,400 won.
The Korean won closed at 1,230.50 won per dollar, down 13.10 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 2.2 basis points to 1.092 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond gained 3 basis points to 1.326 percent.
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