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Stocks tank on NK leader's health rumor, oil plunge

A currency dealer works at KB Kookmin Bank's dealing room in its headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
A currency dealer works at KB Kookmin Bank's dealing room in its headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s stock market fluctuated as the geopolitical uncertainties triggered by the health condition of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and historic oil price plunge sapped investor sentiment.

The benchmark indexes -- main bourse Kospi and Kosdaq -- had a roller-coaster ride.

Kospi sank 3 percent to its lowest in the late morning session and the loss narrowed to 1 percent in its closing. Kosdaq saw a 5.6 percent plunge at its largest, and closed 1.4 percent lower.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics was 1.7 percent lower in closing. Carmaker Hyundai Motor fell 4.2 percent and chipmaker SK hynix shed 0.9 percent

Foreign investors net sold stocks worth 528.3 billion won ($429.86 million) at 3:30 p.m., while Korean retail investors net bought 708.2 billion won worth of shares.

The sharp drop came immediately after a news report by CNN that Kim was “in grave danger” after reportedly receiving a cardiovascular system procedure. A Cheong Wa Dae official said abnormalities in Kim’s health condition were not identified.

In the early morning, Korean stocks opened slightly lower due to a sharp drop in US crude price, bringing the price to the negative territory.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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