South Korean stocks sank to finish below the psychologically important 2,000-point threshold Friday, by falling 1 percent, in the face of escalating trade tension between its two largest trading partners, and its own with Japan.
The Korean won fell sharply against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed 19.21 points, or 0.95 percent, to 1,998.13, the lowest in seven months. Trading volume was low at 427 million shares worth 5.21 trillion won ($4.34 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 537 to 289.
The growing trade row between the United States and China, coupled with Japan's economic retaliation against South Korea, continued to spook market sentiment.
U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday (local time) that Washington will start levying taxes on Chinese goods worth $300 billion in September, adding to uncertainties over their drawn-out trade talks.
Japan's Cabinet also approved a motion to strike South Korea off a "whitelist" of countries subject to preferential trading status in its latest salvo in a series of economic retaliations against a Seoul court ruling over Japan's wartime forced labor.
"The removal was an event already expected by the market, but Trump's announcement of the tariff came as a surprise," said Ha In-hwan, a researcher at Meritz Securities Co.
Foreigners sold a net 396 billion won, while institutions bought a net 361 billion won. Retail investors bought more shares than they sold at 14 billion won.
Tech shares closed lower as they were considered some of the primary victims of Japan's export curbs. Top market cap Samsung Electronics lost 0.55 percent to 44,950 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix slid 2.06 percent to 76,100 won.
Financial shares finished bearish as well, with Shinhan Financial losing 3.28 percent to 42,750 won and KB Financial decreasing 3.94 percent to 41,500 won. Samsung Life Insurance surrendered 3.17 percent to 73,400 won.
Top chemical firm LG Chem retreated 0.3 percent to 331,500 won, and LG Household & Health Care shed 2.79 percent to 1,219,000 won.
Leading oil refiner SK Innovation moved down 1.75 percent to
Carmakers were mixed, with Hyundai Motor advancing 1.59 percent to 127,500 won, while Kia Motors fell 0.12 percent to 42,800 won.
Top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis moved up 1.03 percent to 246,000 won.
The South Korean won closed at 1,198.00 won against the U.S.
dollar, sharply down 9.50 won from the previous session.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed sharply higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 4.9 basis points to
1.260 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond shed 5.6 basis points to 1.290 percent. (Yonhap)