Korean stocks ended 1.91 percent lower on Thursday as investor sentiment was frozen by concerns about the escalating Greece debt crisis and the pace of the global recovery, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark KOSPI tumbled 39.9 points to 2,046.63. Trading volume was light at 231.1 million shares worth 5.76 trillion won ($5.28 billion) with losers outpacing gainers 595 to 228.
“The market was gripped by concerns about the eurozone debt crisis and jitters about how the movement of global liquidity would shift after June,” said Kim Hyoung-ryoul, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co.
Kim said economic data from abroad is raising fears that the global recovery may falter, and subsequently, corporate earnings could be affected.
U.S. markets tumbled on Wednesday, hit by Greece‘s escalating sovereign crisis and poor U.S. data. Finance ministers from the eurozone failed to reach an agreement on how to rescue debt-ridden Greece. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 1.48 percent, and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.76 percent.
Foreign investors weighed on the market by dumping a net 209.8 billion won worth of local stocks on the main stock market.
Most shares ended in negative territory, led by falls in tech and bank shares as well as refiners. Market leader Samsung Electronics fell 1.97 percent to 848,000 won, and chip giant Hynix Semiconductor declined 2.6 percent to 26,250 won.
No. 2 banking group Woori Finance shed 1.89 percent to 12,950 won on speculation that the government’s move to sell a controlling stake in Woori Finance may hit a snag due to the departure of KDB Financial Group from the bidding race.
Leading car maker Hyundai Motor lost 2.77 percent to 228,000 won, and top refiner SK Innovation declined 4.37 percent to 219,000 won.
Retail giant Lotte Shopping tumbled 7.24 percent to 487,000 won on reports that the company will sell convertible bonds worth 1 trillion won in overseas markets in a bid to finance operating funds.
The local currency ended at 1,089.90 won to the dollar, down 6.8 won from Wednesday‘s close, as offshore investors unloaded local stocks, dealers said.