South Korean shares opened sharply lower Thursday as fears emerged that Italy may ask for international bailout funds.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 50.82 points, or 2.66 percent, to trade at 1,856.71 in the first 15 minutes of trading after earlier dropping as much as 2.77 percent.
Concerns spread that Italy may seek financial aid from its euro- region's bailout funds and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the Italy's government bond yield shot up to a dangerous level.
The yield on the Italy's 10-year government bonds soared as high as 7.25 percent overnight, posting the highest since the currency union was launched. That was higher than the 7 percent level at which Greece, Ireland and Portugal sought bailout funds.
"Italy's Treasury bond yield breached the dangerous 7 percent level at which Europe's trouble nations called for bailout funds. Italy is highly likely to seek bailout funds, but many doubt that the euro-area's rescue fund and the IMF have enough bullet to help Italy avert default," Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at Solomon Investment & Securities in Seoul, told Xinhua.
The local currency was quoted at 1,134.5 won to the U.S. dollar as of 9:15 a.m., down 17.1 won from Wednesday's close.