October 11, 2018 / 7:34 AM / 8 months ago

S.Korean shares fall most in nearly 7 years, won declines sharply

    * KOSPI index hits lowest since April 2017, foreigners sell
    * Korean won plunges nearly 1 pct versus U.S. dollar
    * South Korean bond yields drop

 (Updates prices, adds quote and milestones)
    SEOUL, Oct 11 (Reuters) - South Korean stocks plunged 4.4
percent on Thursday, the sharpest in almost seven years, and hit
their lowest since April 2017, as a rout on Wall Street rippled
through Asian markets.
    The benchmark KOSPI index         declined 98.94 points to
2,129.67, extending losses into an eighth session. 
    Samsung Electronics             and SK Hynix            ,
the country's two biggest firms, dropped 4.8 percent and 1.9
percent, respectively, pulling the KOSPI technology sub-index
down 4.5 percent.
    Nine of the top 10 KOSPI stocks closed in negative
territory, while Naver             was under a trading halt
ahead of a stock split. 
    Celltrion            , the country's third-largest company,
slumped 5.2 percent, while fourth-largest Samsung Biologics
            tumbled 4.3 percent. 
    Trading volume on the KOSPI index was 404,316,000 shares
and, of the total traded issues of 898, the number of advancing
shares was mere 23.
    The Junior KOSDAQ index         slumped 5.4 percent, to its
weakest close since November 2017. 
    The fall was in line with Asian stocks. MSCI's broadest
index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan                 was
down 4 percent.
    "The current downturn seems excessive," said Kim Jae-hong,
CIO of PTR Asset Management based in Seoul. "As the U.S. policy
rate hikes motions are expected to cool down, South Korean
markets would stabilize," he said, noting the downside risks for
South Korean markets would be eased gradually. 
    Foreigners were net sellers of 486,516 million won ($424.77
million) worth of shares on Thursday.
     The won was quoted at 1,144.4 per dollar on the onshore
settlement platform           , 0.91 percent weaker than its
previous close at 1,134. 
    The losses did not spill over to the bond market. December
futures on three-year treasury bonds         rose 0.19 points to
    "This is a U.S. equity problem, and its decade-long
outperformance is overdue a major correction," said Peter Park,
head of securities management at South Korea's IBK Insurance.
    "Further short-term equity pain may well be unavoidable in
South Korea as foreigners are selling, but the bond market is
holding up." 
    The Korean 3-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was
quoted at 1.65 percent, while the benchmark 3-year Korean
treasury bond yielded 2.011 percent, lower than the previous
day's 2.06 percent.    
    ($1 = 1,145.3500 won)

 (Reporting by Hayoung Choi, Cynthia Kim; Editing by Amrutha
Gayathri, Sunil Nair and Subhranshu Sahu)
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