(Yonhap News) - South Korean stocks tumbled Monday as North Korea's announcement of its nuclear test pummeled investor sentiment. The South Korean won plummeted against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 32.60 points, or 2.41 percent, to 1,319.40. Volume was heavy at 396 million shares worth 4.47 trillion won (US$4.72 billion) with losers leading gainers 603 to 25.
The blue-chip KRX 100 lost 49.03 points, or 1.75 percent, to 2,746.74, and the tech-heavy KOSDAQ index was down 48.22 points, or 8.21 percent, at 539.01.
The local currency closed at 963.90 won, down 14.8 won from Wednesday's close, after offshore and domestic investors engaged in a dollar buying spree following the North's announcement.
The local financial market was closed Thursday and Friday in observance of Chuseok, Korea's autumn harvest holiday.
"The nuclear crisis from the North rattled investor sentiment, sending the market south. The market will be subject to the U.S.'s next moves against the North's nuclear test and global markets' reactions," said Park Seok-hyun, an analyst at Kyobo Securities Co.
The market started the day higher on recent gains in U.S. stocks and sliding oil prices, but nose-dived after the North's claim of success in its nuclear test.
North Korea said the underground nuclear test was carried out safely and successfully earlier in the day.
Most stocks ended lower on weak investor sentiment by the North's announcement. But the market's decline was curbed as foreign buying offset institutional and retail selling, analysts said.
Tech giant Samsung Electronics fell 0.93 percent to 642,200 and chip titan Hynix Semiconductor lost 4.25 percent to 34,950 won on foreign and retail selling sprees. Leading lender Kookmin Bank ended flat at 73,800 won, erasing earlier gains on institutional selling and No.2 lender Shinhan Financial Group fell 1.54 percent to 41,450 won.
One bright spot was top steelmaker POSCO, up 0.63 percent at 240,500 won as foreign investors bought its shares.
In the currency market, the won started lower against the dollar and its fall was sharply extended as offshore and domestic investors attacked the local currency for the dollar in the wake of the North's announcement, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, fell slightly. The return on the benchmark three-year Treasuries added 0.02 percentage point to 4.59 percent, with the yield on five-year government bonds gaining 0.01 percentage point to 4.61 percent.