South Korean shares dropped to their lowest level in over two weeks Friday, as foreign investors heavily sold off market heavyweights, mostly tech stocks, a move seen as cashing in recent gains, analysts said. The local currency fell sharply against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index plunged 42.25 points, or 1.73 percent, to close at 2,400.99, after dipping to as low as 2,399.06 at one point.
The closing price marks the lowest since July 13, when the comparable figure was 2,409.49 points.
Trading volume was moderate at 315 million shares worth 6.9 trillion won ($6.1 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 625 to 188.
The local stock market opened lower, taking a cue from overnight Wall Street losses but extended losses on an increased foreign selling binge.
"A profit-taking stance seems to be taking hold among foreign investors," said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.
"The overnight decline in the US tech shares dampened the local market sentiment."
Foreigners offloaded shares worth a net 563 billion won, while institutions and retail investors scooped up 462 billion won and 80 billion won, respectively, keeping the index from falling further.
Top cap Samsung Electronics shed 4.1 percent to end at 2,388,000 won, as investors opted to lock in gains after the tech giant reported its all-time high quarterly earnings the previous day.
Other market heavyweights also remained in negative terrain.
Global chipmaker SK hynix declined 5.56 percent to 64,600 won, while LG Display, a major flat panel producer, lost 2.99 percent to end at 30,800 won.
LG Chem, South Korea's top chemicals firm, moved down 2.42 percent to 323,000 won, and AmorePacific, the country's leading cosmetics company, also dropped 0.17 percent to close at 291,000 won.
Naver, the country's top Internet portal operator, slid 3.15 percent to 799,000 won, while the No. 1 steelmaker POSCO fell 1.21 percent to 327,500 won.
Automakers, meanwhile, managed to remain in the positive terrain, with top carmaker Hyundai Motor gaining 2.05 percent to end at 149,500 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors rising 0.54 percent to 37,200 won.
The local currency closed at 1,122.10 won against the US dollar, down 9.3 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)