South Korean stocks retreated 0.79 percent Friday, extending a losing streak to a third straight day, as the latest US economic data supported the view that the Federal Reserve will deliver another steep interest rate hike in next week's policy meeting.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 19.05 points to 2,382.78. Trading volume was moderate at 432.5 million shares worth 8.4 trillion won ($6.04 billion) with decliners outnumbering gainers 687 to 193.
"The aftermath of the August US CPI (consumer price index) is continuing, along with growing fears over next week's September FOMC," Han Ji-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co., said. FOMC refers to the Federal Open Market Committee.
"Until next week's FOMC, market participants will keep their eyes on the Fed's policy decision," Han said.
Foreigners sold off a net 46.3 billion won worth of local equities, with institutions unloading a net 409.3 billion won. Individual investors snapped up a net 446.1 billion won.
US retail sales posted a higher-than-expected gain in August, in the latest government release Thursday (local time), solidifying the view that the Fed will push ahead with a rate hike by at least 0.75 percentage point at the end of the two-day monetary policy meeting that starts Tuesday.
Chemicals and steel sectors were among decliners. LG Chem fell 3.5 percent to 635,000 won and steel giant POSCO Holdings slid 1.91 percent to 230,500 won.
Refinery stocks also lost ground. SK Innovation tumbled 4.05 percent to 177,500 won and S-Oil sank 5.84 percent to 88,700 won.
Tech behemoth Samsung Electronics closed in the green after erasing losses in the earlier session, gaining 0.36 percent to 56,200 won.
Automakers continued its winning streak, with industry leader Hyundai Motor rising 1.52 percent to 201,000 won and its smaller affiliate Kia advancing 1.38 percent to 81,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,388.00 won against the US dollar, up 5.7 won from Thursday's close, slowing down the pace of its depreciation that went as low as to almost breach the 1,400 level at one point. If it had, it would have marked the won's steepest decline in 13 years. (Yonhap)