SEOUL– South Korean stocks turned to losses late Thursday morning as investor sentiment weakened amid a local surge in new coronavirus cases.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 16.97 points, or 0.52 percent, to trade at 3,268.37 points as of 11:20 a.m.
The KOSPI got off to a strong start, tracking the U.S. Federal Reserve’s minutes that signaled that the world’s largest economy would not hurry its time frame for tapering its asset purchasing program.
The key stock index, however, pared its gains in the late morning, however, as South Korea reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since the virus first hit the country on Jan. 20, 2020.
Health authorities extended the current distancing curbs in the greater Seoul area for one week starting Wednesday, warning it may tighten the social distancing measures to the highest Level 4 if the case number continues to rise.
In Seoul, market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 0.25 percent, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 1.21 percent.
Internet portal operator Naver climbed 2.04 percent, and giant pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics moved up 2.13 percent.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor shed 1.08, and leading chemical firm LG Chem declined 1.61 percent.
The local currency was trading at 1,144.5 won against the U.S. dollar, down 6.4 won from the previous session’s close.
Source: Yonhap News Agency