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Seoul down 1.9% on virus woes, weak data


South Korean stocks closed 1.88 percent lower Monday as investors were concerned about the spiraling number of COVID-19 infections in major economies despite signs of a slowdown locally, analysts said. The Korean won sharply fell against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) decreased 34.94 points to close at 1,825.76. Trading volume was high at 1 billion shares worth 9.4 trillion won ($7.73 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 694 to 180.

South Korea detected 25 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,537, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second time since late February that the country's new virus infections have fallen below 30.

In contrast, the number of infections in the United States and many European countries showed little signs of slowing, with the US reporting more than 550,000 infections so far.

"While there is hope that the number of daily new COVID-19 patients here has already reached its peak, the factor was priced in last week," said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co.

Also, weak exports data damepened investor sentiment.

South Korea's exports fell 18.6 percent on-year to $12.2 billion in the April 1-10 period amid the economic fallout from the new coronavirus, customs data showed.

Foreigners continued to offload local stocks for the 28th consecutive session, dumping 292 billion won. Individuals scooped up a net 760 billion won, while institutions sold a net 458 billion won.

Top market cap Samsung Electronics slipped 1.93 percent to 48,300 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix shed 3.21 percent to 81,400 won. Battery maker Samsung SDI plunged 3.59 percent to 241,500 won.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor fell 1.91 percent to 97,800 won, and its sister company Kia Motors plunged 4.84 percent to 29,500 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis slid 3.87 percent to 174,000 won.

Top steelmaker POSCO advanced 1.69 percent to 181,000 won after it announced a plan to buy its own shares worth 1 trillion won.

Pharmaceutical shares closed mixed, with Samsung BioLogics falling 3.58 percent while Celltrion rose 2.86 percent.

The local currency closed at 1,217.90 won against the US dollar, down 9.10 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 2.6 basis points to 0.996 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 3.1 basis points to 1.225 percent. (Yonhap)