South Korean stocks were major losers in across-the-board Asian rout Thursday following overnight retreat in U.S. shares with the main index tumbling by the biggest fall in nearly seven years as foreign investors packed out from Korean equity market amid bleak outlook and widening gap with U.S. interest rates.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) plunged 4.44 percent to end at 2,129.67, the lowest since April last year when uncertainty dominated the market ahead of the May election to vote on a new leader to fill the void after impeachment on the former president. The last time the Kospi lost so big was Nov. 10, 2011 when it retreated 4.9 percent.
The secondary Korea Securities Dealers Automated Quotation (Kosdaq) slipped 5.37 percent to close at 707.38 in the biggest fall since February 2016.
The Kospi has extended losing streak for the eighth consecutive session amid escalating pessimism about the Korean economy and corporate performance. Foreign investors decisively turned negative and kept up net selling, stoking fear about a capital flight amid widening gap between the Korean rate in a bind and U.S. counterparts in faster normalization.
Foreign investors dumped nearly 500 billion won ($437.4 million) worth Kospi shares on Thursday after 230 billion won worth on the previous day.
The U.S. dollar jumped nearly 1 percent to finish Thursday at 1,144.4 won, the highest since 1,145.5 closing on Sept. 29 last year.
Shares of market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. fell 4.86 percent to 43,100 won while SK Hynix Inc. dropped 1.85 percent to 69,000 won. Shares of other blue-chip stocks lost ground.
Shares of Celltrion Inc. dropped 5.24 percent to 271,500 won, Samsung BioLogics 4.3 percent to 467,000 won, Hyundai Motor Co. 3.33 percent to 116,000 won, and Posco 5.51 percent to 257,000 won.
“A bundle of factors all weighed on the sentiment,” said Lee Kyung-min, analyst at Daishin Securities. The easy collapse of the psychological resistance level of 2,200 may suggest a lengthy bear market, others said.
By Park Joon-hyung and Lee Eun-joo
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