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Korean Stocks Fall Hard as Dow Falls Sharply
New York Stock Exchange in New York City

Share prices on Korea stock exchange plunged across the board on June 7 when both local and foreign investors dumped a large amount of shares on fears that the United States may implement an interest rate hike.

The local currency closed at 948.20 won, down 5.20 won from Monday's close, as the Japanese yen depreciated against the greenback. The local financial markets were closed on June 6 for Memorial Day.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 34.78 points, or 2.67 percent, to 1,266.84, the lowest close this year. Volume was light at 238 million shares worth 3.31 trillion won (US$3.5 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 700 to 73.

The 100-share, blue-chip KRX 100 fell 77.38 points, or 2.84 percent, to 2,640.91, and the tech-heavy KOSDAQ index went down 35.80 points, or 5.97 percent, to 562.91.

Hit by the foreign selling binge, most stocks closed in the red. Tech giant Samsung Electronics lost 2.28 percent to 599,000 won and Hynix Semiconductor, the world's second-largest computer memory chip manufacturer, dipped 2.86 percent to 30,600 won as foreign investors dumped their shares.

The Korea Exchange activated a sidecar in the KOSDAQ market at 1:51 p.m. after the KOSDAQ Star Index Futures, a futures index comprising 30 blue chip companies, fell more than 6 percent.

Following the sidecar regulations, program bidding prices for items composing the Star Index Futures were suspended for five minutes. This is the fourth time that the sidecar has been activated since January this year. The sidecar is activated when the futures index falls or rises more than 6 percent.

Stocks on New York Stock Exchange dropped for the second straight session on June 6 with the Dow Jones industrial average falling to its worst close since March 9. Global markets also sold off as inflation fears worsened.

The Dow lost more than 110 points in midday trading before narrowing its loss later in the session. The index dropped nearly 200 points Monday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spooked Wall Street by saying that the central bank will remain vigilant in fighting inflation, according to the Associated Press.

Investors have been hoping the Fed would stop increasing short-term interest rates after 16 hikes; the nation's benchmark rate now stands at 5 percent. However, Bernanke's comments in recent weeks have repeatedly shaken investors and sent stocks tumbling.

"Bernanke came in with this reputation as a great communicator," said John Caldwell, chief investment strategist for McDonald Financial Group, part of Cleveland-based KeyCorp. "Most of us would choose to go back to the general confusion (former Fed Chairman Alan) Greenspan created."

The Dow fell 46.58, or 0.42 percent, to 11,002.14. The index tumbled 199.15 points, or 1.77 percent, during Monday's session.

Broader stock indicators were also lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.44, or 0.11 percent, to 1,263.85, and the Nasdaq composite fell 6.84, or 0.32 percent, to 2,162.78.

Declining issues led advancers by more than 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Stocks in most Asian markets fell hard Tuesday, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index down 1.81 percent, while India's benchmark index fell 2.51 percent. The major European indexes also dropped, with Ireland's benchmark index down 4.89 percent and Austria's benchmark falling 4.75 percent.

In other overseas markets, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.60 percent, Germany's DAX index dropped 2.11 percent, and France's CAC-40 lost 2.40 percent.

A slowing U.S. economy and higher borrowing costs for American firms would be bad news for Asia's exporters, who rely heavily on U.S. demand.

Japan's Nikkei fell 1.8 percent to its lowest close since Jan. 23 as shares in exporters were dumped.

Among Tokyo-listed exporters, digital camera maker Nikon Corp. fell 3.5 percent, electronic components maker Kyocera Corp. lost 2.4 percent and chip equipment maker Tokyo Electron shed 3.2 percent.

Among auto makers, Nissan was down almost 2 percent and Toyota ended 0.66 percent in the red. Big bank SMFG dropped 2.5 percent.

New Zealand shares dropped, the benchmark NZX-50 Index slipping 38.6 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,600.6, after a holiday on Monday. The top stock, Telecom Corp. of New Zealand Ltd. lost 3.3 percent to NZ$4.45.

South Korean financial markets were closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9 percent in morning trade as rate-sensitive property stocks such as Henderson Land Co. Ltd. were sold. A currency link means Hong Kong interest rates tend to follow the U.S. rate cycle.

Singapore's Straits Times was down 1.3 percent, but Taiwan's benchmark index — which fell 3.5 percent on Monday — rose 0.2 percent.

India's 30-share BSE index fell 2 percent, amid fears foreign investors could pull money out of emerging markets.

Spot gold was around $635.20 an ounce, down from $643 in late New York trade and almost $100 below a 26-year high of $730 hit last month.






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