SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks slumped Monday as investors took a wait-and-see approach on the rise in U.S.-China tensions and new coronavirus cases around the world. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 4.97 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 3,036.04 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 1.3 billion shares worth some 16.5 trillion won (US$14.6 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 446 to 415.
Foreigners bought a net 50 billion won, while institutions sold 711 billion won. Retail investors purchased a net 663 billion won.
The KOSPI snapped its two-day winning streak after choppy trading as a U.S.-China political spat over the human rights issue in Xinjiang deepened.
China imposed retaliatory sanctions on U.S. and Canadian individuals and entities during the weekend. Earlier last week, the communist country also sanctioned European politicians.
“The political tussle between the U.S. and China negatively affected the investor sentiment (locally),” Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Investor concerns grew as U.S. COVID-19 cases moved back up, with the third wave of the virus spreading in Europe. New COVID-19 infections topped 126 million over the weekend around the world, with the death toll exceeding 2.7 million.
However, heightened forecasts of better corporate earnings in the first quarter prevented the KOSPI from falling further.
In Seoul, top cap Samsung Electronics edged up 0.12 percent to 81,600 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix decreased 2.22 percent to 132,000 won.
Giant internet portal operator Naver lost 2.87 percent to 372,000 won, and leading chemical firm LG Chem retreated 0.37 percent to 799,000 won.
Pharmaceutical giant Celltion jumped 5.25 percent to 330,500 won as the European Medicines Agency confirmed that the firm’s drug can be used to treat COVID-19.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor closed unchanged at 215,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,131.7 won against the U.S. dollar, down 2.4 won from the previous session’s close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.2 basis point to 1.119 percent, but the return on the benchmark five-year government bond slipped 0.2 basis point to 1.530 percent.