South Korean stocks hit 1-week low on Ukraine, COVID-19 worries

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  • Fall of KOSPI, net foreign sellers
  • The Korean won weakens against the US dollar
  • South Korea benchmark bond yield rises

SEOUL, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Overview of South Korea’s financial markets:

** South Korean stocks fell to their lowest in more than a week on Thursday, as investors fret over a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and the economic impact of surging cases of COVID-19 in the country.

** The Korean won weakened, while the benchmark bond yield rose.

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** As of 0150 GMT, the benchmark KOSPI (.KS11) was down 40.98 points, or 1.51%, at 2,678.55, after falling 1.82% earlier in the session at the highest low since February 15.

** Leading the decline, chip giants Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and SK Hynix (000660.KS) fell 1.37% and 3.11%, respectively, while battery maker LG Energy Solution ( 373220.KS) fell 4.30%.

** Risk appetite took a hit after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News he expected Russia to invade Ukraine before the night was out, although that he still sees a chance “to avoid a major assault”. Read more

**The statement comes after the United States imposed sanctions on the company responsible for building Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on Wednesday, extending sanctions to Moscow. Read more

**Meanwhile, the Bank of Korea kept interest rates steady on Thursday, taking a break from back-to-back hikes as soaring coronavirus cases and escalating tensions in Ukraine cloud the economic outlook. Read more

** The country reported 170,016 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, near the peak of 171,452 infections reported the previous day. Read more

** On the Ukraine front, the United Nations Security Council and Group of Seven world leaders will hold separate meetings to discuss the crisis, diplomats and the White House said.

** Foreigners were net sellers of 290.0 billion won ($242.27 million) of shares on the main board.

** The won was quoted at 1,197.3 to the dollar on the onshore settlement platform, down 0.31%.

** In the offshore trade, the won was quoted at 1,197.0, while in the forward non-deliverable trade, its one-month contract was quoted at 1,197.2.

** In money and debt markets, March three-year Treasury bill futures fell 0.16 points to 107.57.

** The yield on the most liquid Korean 3-year Treasury note rose 5 basis points to 2.370%.

($1 = 1,197.0300 won)

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Reporting by Joori Roh; edited by Uttaresh.V

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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