March 18, 2020 / 7:30 AM / 16 days ago

S.Korean stocks have worst day in nearly 10 yrs as virus fear persists

* KOSPI hits lowest close in a decade, foreigners sell

* KRW inches down against USD

* S.Korea benchmark bond yield rises

* For the midday report, please click

SEOUL, March 18 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial markets:

** South Korean shares tumbled nearly 5% on Wednesday to hit their lowest close since May 2010 as fears over the rapid spread of the coronavirus and its fallout on the global economy eclipsed the global stimulus packages. The won weakened while the benchmark bond yield rose.

** The nation’s government announced it will loosen one of its key foreign exchange rules to encourage banks to supply more dollars in local markets.

** The benchmark KOSPI closed down 81.24 points, or 4.86%, to 1,591.20, marking the biggest daily fall since November 2011 and the sixth straight losing streak.

** KOSPI lost a combined 19% during the six sessions, the worst sell-off since late October 2008, while it has fallen 27.60% so far this year.

** “The market has been increasingly concerned about huge fiscal deficit which could be caused by reckless bond issuance from major economies as part of global stimulus efforts, fuelling risk-averse sentiment,” said Seo Jung-hun, an analyst at Samsung Securities.

** The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled a $1 trillion stimulus package that could deliver $1,000 cheques to Americans within two weeks to buttress an economy hit by the coronavirus.

** U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that the country’s stock exchanges might shorten their trading hours, but stock exchange operators expressed objections against any such move.

** South Korea reported 93 new virus cases on Wednesday, slightly up from 84 the day before and raising the national tally to 8,413.

** South Korean President Moon Jae-in said there are high possibilities that the economic crisis could persist, adding the government will deploy additional measures to shore up the economy and stabilise markets.

** Foreigners sold around net $469.11 million worth of shares on the main board.

** The won closed trading at 1,245.7 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.18% lower than its previous close at 1,243.5.

** In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,246.9 per dollar, down 0.6% from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,243.0.

** In money and debt markets, June futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.12 points to 111.37 in late afternoon trade.

** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 1.3 bps to 1.045%, while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 5.6 bps to 1.498%. (Reporting by Joori Roh, Additional reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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