South Korean stocks fell 0.62 percent Tuesday due to the weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 12.02 points to close at 1,920.68. Trading volume was low at 258.2 million shares worth 4.37 trillion won (US$3.86 billion) with losers outpacing gainers 445 to 378.
"Chemical firms and oil refiners traded lower as China's economic data failed to meet the market expectation," said Bae Sung-young, a researcher at Hyundai Securities Co.
China's consumer prices grew 2.1 percent in May from a year earlier, down 0.4 percentage point from the market estimate of 2.5 percent.
The country's producer price index, a measure of inflation at the wholesale level, fell 2.9 percent on-year in May, marking the 15th straight month of decline, indicating weaker business sentiment in China.
"The main bourse also remained stagnant as foreigners offloaded shares of Samsung Electronics," Bae added.
Samsung Electronics saw its shares drop 6.18 percent on Friday to 1,427,000 won, the lowest since Feb. 6. The world's top smartphone maker moved down 2.53 percent to 1,389,000 won Tuesday.
The sharp decline is mainly attributable to a market outlook that Samsung Electronics will likely see profitability fall due to the rising number of competitors in the global smartphone market with a narrowing technology gap.
Foreigners dumped 576.4 billion won worth of local equities. In contrast, retail and institutional investors bought a net 323.7 billion won and 253.3 billion won worth of stocks, respectively.
Oil refiners closed lower, with S-Oil falling 2.84 percent to 82,200 won and top player SK Innovation losing 1.71 percent to 144,000 won.
Chemical firms also traded bearish, with LG Chemical falling 2.08 percent to 259,500 won and LG Household & Healthcare moving down 3.47 percent to 584,000 won.
In contrast, Hyundai Merchant Marine, the No. 1 shareholder of Hyundai Asan, the operator of South Korean tours to the North's Mount Kumgang, increased 6.48 percent to 15,600 won.
South and North Korea came to an agreement Monday to hold an official government meeting between "responsible authorities" in Seoul later this week with the aim of resolving pressing inter-Korean issues that can help build mutual trust and ease uncertainties on the Korean Peninsula.
Mobile carriers closed bullish on the improved outlook over their earnings, with top player SK Telecom adding 2.61 percent to 216,500 won and KT climbing 1.18 percent to 38,600 won.
Builders also traded higher, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction rising 2.18 percent to 60,900 won and Daewoo Engineering & Construction climbing 1.69 percent to 7,800 won.
The local currency ended at 1,134.00 won against the greenback, down 6.70 won from Monday's close, mainly due to an upgrade in the U.S. sovereign rating outlook, dealers said. (Yonhap News)