South Korean stocks nosedived 6.22 percent Friday as deepening fears of another global recession pummeled investor sentiment here, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) tumbled 115.7 points to 1,744.88. Trading volume was heavy at 497 million shares worth 9.39 trillion won (US$8.64 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 810 to 80.
At one point, the bourse operator halted program trading of shares on the KOSPI futures as stocks and stock futures extended declines to more than 5 percent for more than a minute.
KOSPI futures were suspended on Aug. 8 and 9 in the aftermath of U.S. credit rating cut. Earlier, the bourse operator also stopped trading on the secondary KOSDAQ and its futures after the index plunged.
"Investors were spooked by gloomy signs of a global financial crisis and economic recession, which caused overnight losses in Wall Street and Europe," said Kwak Jung-bo, an analyst at Samsung Securities Co. "Politicians in the U.S. and Europe failed to soothe the growing concerns. They lost investor confidence."
Foreigners went on a selling spree for a third consecutive session, offloading a net 262 billion won. Institutions extended their selling streak to five sessions, while retail investors snapped up shares.
"South Korean market learned its lesson from the previous global recession in 2008. Investors are taking out preemptive positions against declines in the market, so as not to incur bigger losses when it plunges into a deeper depression. This may have widened the losses faster than other Asian countries," Kwak said.
The losses were spread throughout the market with export-oriented sectors taking the biggest hits. Samsung Electronics, the world's leading memory chip maker, lost 4.09 percent to finish at 680,000 won, and LG Electronics, South Korea's second largest mobile phone maker, closed at 55,000 won, down 5.82 percent.
"Samsung has lost much during the recent crash. But it must be the eventual winner of the memory chip competition, which appears to be a game of chicken," said Kwak, referring to a recent plunge in the prices of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips.
Carmakers suffered big losses with market leader Hyundai Motor plummeting 10.97 percent to 170,500 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors sinking 7.54 percent to finish at 62,500 won.
Bank shares also fueled the market's declines, with Woori Finance Holdings Co. slumping 7.82 percent to 11,200 won.
POSCO, South Korea's leading steelmaker, plunged 4.14 percent to 382,000 won on reports that one of its furnaces exploded due to unknown reasons earlier in the day.
The local currency closed at 1,087.4 won to the greenback, down 13.4 won from Thursday's close, the lowest in 10 days since it changed hands at 1,088.10 won on Aug. 9, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yield, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasuries dropped 0.05 percentage point to 3.51 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds fell 0.06 percentage point to 3.66 percent.