Seoul stocks ended lower Monday as investors moved to cash in part of recent gains on cautions that it would be too early to expect the Federal Reserve to slow down its aggressive rate hikes push.
After choppy trading, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index lost 8.51 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 2,474.65.
Trading volume was moderate at about 499 million shares worth some 7.21 trillion won ($5.43 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 563 to 301.
Foreigners and retail investors bought a net 147.65 billion won and 15.6 billion won worth of shares, respectively, while institutions shed a net 170.85 billion.
The market opened higher after the previous session's sharp advance, but earlier gains were erased after Fed official Christopher Waller said Sunday the Fed is still "a ways to go" before stopping raising rate hikes.
He also noted that the possible slowdown of its rate hikes pace in the next meeting should not been seen as a softening in its commitment to fight inflation.
"Upward momentum in the market has been weakening, and the Kospi's rebound is forecast to end before long," Daeshin Securities analyst Lee Kyung-min said.
"Foreign investors, in particular, could move to take profits anytime, given that concerns over the economic downturn and corporate results have been growing," he added.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 1.59 percent to 61,900 won, and chip giant SK hynix lost 2.78 percent to 90,900 won.
Battery maker LG Energy Solutions sank 3.21 percent to 604,000, and No. 1 chemical firm LG Chem decreased 1.49 percent to 726,000 won.
Internet giant Naver skidded 2.58 percent to 188,500 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger Kakao Talk, shed 0.34 percent to 58,500 won.
But carmakers gathered ground after US President Joe Biden said Sunday the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act should be discussed in consideration of South Korean firms' great contribution to the US economy.
The IRA has been a source of concern for carmakers and other businesses here, as it calls for giving tax credits only to electric vehicles assembled in North America.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor surged 2.33 percent to 176,000 won, and its affiliate Kia jumped 2.79 percent to 69,500 won.
Steelmakers also rose, with No. 1 steelmaker Posco advancing 3.15 percent to 294,500 won.
The local currency ended at 1,325.9 won against the US dollar, down 7.5 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)