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Seoul: Stocks hit lowest in over 1-1/2 years on global equities selloff

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares skidded to their lowest level since January 2017 on Thursday, as world stock markets tanked on worries over global growth, US earnings and a multitude of other negative factors.

The benchmark Kospi index ended down 1.63 per cent, or 34.28 points, at 2,063.30, recouping some of the early losses when the benchmark dived over 3 per cent.

The index has retreated over 11 per cent so far this month and is down more than 16 per cent this year, pressured by a host of global uncertainties, including a prolonged trade war between the United States and China and worries over rising borrowing costs in developed economies.

An overnight rout on Wall Street was the immediate trigger for the latest selloff in global markets, as investors were rattled by some weak US earnings and soft economic data.

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"While there's no favourable factors, downside pressures are accumulating and we see no earning momentum in local stock markets," Lee Jae-sun, an analyst at KTB Investment Securities, said.

South Korea's largest carmaker Hyundai Motor slumped nearly 6 per cent after it posted a 68 per cent decline in quarterly net profit. Its affiliates, Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis, closed down 5.9 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

Global tech giant Samsung Electronics fell 3.6 per cent while chipmaker SK Hynix lost 3 per cent.

Bucking the market, the country's top biopharma company Celltrion snapped a three-day losing streak and finished up 4.9 per cent.

The earlier losses were triggered by a block sale of its shares by a Singapore's Ion Investments, and during the session the stock jumped 12 per cent from its session low.

The junior Kosdaq index ended 1.78 per cent lower, but like the benchmark index, it pulled back from more than a 3 per cent tumble in the morning session.

Locally, there was not much to cheer either as data earlier showed Asia's fourth-largest economy grew a modest 0.6 per cent in the third quarter from the previous quarter, with a plunge in domestic investment weighing on broader activity.

In money and debt markets, December futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.12 points to 108.64.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.7 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.981 per cent, lower than the previous day's 2.01 per cent.

The won was quoted at 1,138 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.5 per cent weaker than its previous close at 1,132.3. 

REUTERS