South Korean stocks finished lower Tuesday as investors took a wait-and-see attitude amid heightened geopolitical tensions, analysts said. The Korean won lost ground against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index lost 6.08 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 2,374.32. Trade volume was light at 297 million shares worth 5.6 trillion won ($5 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 560 to 243.
Foreigners and individuals offloaded a net 377.1 billion won and 159.6 billion won worth of local stocks, respectively, targeting some major tech stocks, a move seen as cashing in recent gains, market watchers said. Meanwhile, institutional investors were net buyers and snatched up a net 507.2 billion won worth of shares.
On Monday (local time), US stocks declined, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 0.2 percent and the broad-based S&P 500 decreasing 0.2 percent. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 0.9 percent.
Analysts speculated many investors took a breather following the recent rally to gauge rising tensions surrounding the Korean Peninsula.
"Investors are forecast to wait on the sidelines as heightened geopolitical tensions are forecast to continue ahead of the long holiday," said Kim Dae-joon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities Co.
Large caps had a mixed day of trading.
Steel and auto shares closed higher, with leading steelmaker POSCO closing at 315,500 won, up 2.6 percent. No. 2 chemicals firm Lotte Chemical was up 0.54 percent to 373,000 won.
Auto stocks also closed in positive terrain, with leading automaker Hyundai Motor jumping 4.61 percent to 147,500 won and its sister company, Kia Motors, adding 2.48 percent to 30,950 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis increased 5.23 percent to 231,500 won.
Tech shares, however, ended bearish, with top cap Samsung Electronics ending at 2,583,000 won, down 3.66 percent from the previous session, to reverse a four-day winning streak. Its smaller rival LG Electronics lost 2.97 percent to 81,800 won. SK hynix, a major chipmaker, also lost 4.87 percent to 82,100 won to end a three-day positive run.
The local currency closed at 1,136.8 won against the US dollar, down 5 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 4.6 basis points to 1.832 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds rose 3.8 basis points to 2.020 percent. (Yonhap)