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Seoul shares rattled by Israeli attack on Iran; Kospi dips to nearly 11-week low

By Choi Ji-won

Published : April 19, 2024 - 18:09

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An electronic board in a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul shows the Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed at 2,591.85 on Friday. (Yonhap) An electronic board in a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul shows the Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed at 2,591.85 on Friday. (Yonhap)

The South Korean market on Friday faced heightened volatility in response to Israel's military actions against Iran, with the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index plunging to its lowest level in 11 weeks. The dip coincided with a weakening of the local currency.

The Kospi concluded the day at 2591.86, marking a marginal decrease of 1.63 percent from the previous session.

Initially opening at 2,600.69, a decrease of 34.01 from the prior session, the index experienced a sharp downturn following reports of Israel's latest military action against Iran. The index dropped 3 percent to reach a low of 2,553.33, touching below the 2,560 mark for the first time in 11 weeks since Feb. 2.

Foreign investors and institutions led the decline, dumping 348.8 billion won and 655.7 billion won worth of local stocks, respectively. Conversely, retail investors net-purchased 925.6 billion won.

The Korean won also depreciated in value, closing at 1382.2 won against the greenback, marking a weakening of 9.3 won from the previous day. The exchange rate had worsened to 1,390 won per dollar immediately following the news of the Israeli attack but managed a slight recovery as the day progressed.

Friday witnessed the first weakening of the won in three days. The currency had shown signs of recovery over the past two days, following verbal interventions by local authorities aimed at curbing its recent depreciation driven by the increasing safe-haven appeal of the US dollar.

The secondary Kosdaq index also experienced a downturn, dropping by 3.58 percent to a low of 824 in the morning. However, it managed to recover later in the day, closing at 841.91, down 1.61 percent from the previous day's close.

Most of the big-cap stocks, particularly in the semiconductor sector, registered declines. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics saw a 2.51 percent decrease, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix plummeted by 7 percent at one point during the session, reaching below 170,000 won, before closing at 173,300 won.

Other notable decliners included LG Energy Solution, down 2.51 percent, Crafton, down 2.31 percent, and LG Chem, down 2.11 percent.

A few companies managed to buck the trend, with Hanwha Aerospace surging by 3.54 percent, while Hyundai Motor and Naver saw increases of 1.73 percent and 0.94 percent, respectively.

Israel reportedly initiated an attack on Iran on Friday morning, apparently in response to Iran's drone and missile strikes the previous weekend, according to US news outlets. Explosions were heard near the central city of Isfahan, though significant damage has not been reported.