Seoul, South Korean shares closed nearly flat on Wednesday, as investor sentiment was spooked by increasing new COVID-19 cases in the country, the South Korean news agency of Yonhap reported.
The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) edged up 2.59 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 2,369.32.
Trading volume was high at about 941 million shares worth some 14.3 trillion won (US$12 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 522 to 324.
Foreigners purchased a net 190 billion won, extending their buying spree to a fourth session, while institutions sold a net 411 billion won. Retail investors bought a net 193 billion won.
South Korea’s daily new COVID-19 cases bounced back to over 300 amid a nationwide epidemic.
Health authorities said they would have to raise the social distancing scheme to the highest Level Three from the current Level Two if the numbers do not flatten this week.
Under the strongest anti-virus curbs, gatherings with 10 or more people are banned, and restrictions are imposed on schools, cafes, movie theaters and wedding halls.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics closed flat at 56,400 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix added 2.34 percent to 78,800 won.
Internet portal giant Naver gained 2.77 percent to 334,000 won, with its rival Kakao up 2.89 percent to 392,000 won.
Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics shed 0.37 percent to 812,000 won, while Celltrion advanced 1.32 percent to 310,500 won.
Leading chemical maker LG Chem spiked up 6.7 percent to 757,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI rose 2.82 percent to 456,500 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, climbed 0.9 percent to 167,500 won, but top steelmaker POSCO lost 3.74 percent to 193,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,186.8 won against the U.S. dollar, down 1.7 won from the previous session’s close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1 basis point to 0.835 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 1.4 basis points to 1.114 percent.
Source: Saudi Press Agency