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Seoul stocks open sharply lower amid Wuhan coronavirus woes


South Korean stocks opened sharply lower Tuesday, the first trading session after the four-day Lunar New Year's holiday, as the fast-spreading Wuhan coronavirus around the globe sapped investor sentiment.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 57.43 points, or 2.56 percent, to 2,188.70 in the first 15 minutes of trading. The local stock market was closed Friday and Monday.

South Korea on Monday reported its fourth confirmed Wuhan coronavirus case amid mounting concerns the pneumonia-like illness is fast spreading to other parts of the world from China despite concerted quarantine efforts.

The total number of infected cases worldwide has reached nearly 3,000, with the number of deaths above 80 as of Monday.

In Seoul, market heavyweights lost ground across the board, amid the concerns the virus may have an adverse impact on consumption around the globe, and lead to further jitters in the global financial market.

Top market cap Samsung Electronics dipped 2.96 percent, and its smaller tech rival LG Electronics moved down 3.33 percent. No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix slipped 2.84 percent.

Carmakers also started lower, with leading Hyundai Motor falling 1.92 percent and Kia Motors decreasing 2.88 percent. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis shed 2.19 percent.

Chemical shares also lost ground, with industry leader LG Chem plunging 3.44 percent and LG Household & Health Care moving down 6.23 percent. Top oil refiner SK Innovation fell 3.85 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,176.40 won against the US dollar, down 7.70 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)