SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks opened nearly flat Monday amid concerns over rising new coronavirus cases around the world.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 0.69 points, or 0.02 percent, to 3,040.32 points in the first 15 minutes of trading amid foreign and institutional selling.

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.

Top cap Samsung Electronics slipped 0.12 percent, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix increased 0.37 percent.

Giant internet portal operator Naver lost 1.7 percent, and leading chemical firm LG Chem retreated 1.12 percent.

Pharmaceutical giant Celltion jumped 3.82 percent as the European Medicines Agency confirmed that the firm’s drug can be used to treat COVID-19. Top automaker Hyundai Motor declined 0.46 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,130.45 won against the U.S. dollar, down 1.15 won from the previous session’s close.