South Korean stocks closed 0.79 percent lower Tuesday, as investors kept a cautious mode ahead of the release of US inflation data that will offer clues as to what direction the Federal Reserve will take in its interest rate hike cycle. The local currency rose against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index retreated 20.30 points to finish at 2,536.58. Trading volume was light at 354.5 million shares worth 8.78 trillion won ($6.61 billion), with decliners outstripping gainers 639 to 230.
"The stock market is not showing a clear direction as investor sentiment turned more cautious ahead of the US consumer price index data release," said Noh Dong-gil, an analyst at Shinhan Investment & Securities Co.
"The overnight Wall Street rally wasn't echoed in Korea since the gain was more of a rebound from corporate news than macro factors," Noh said.
The United States is set to release the consumer price index for August on Wednesday, with the reading on producer prices to be released the following day.
The upcoming data is expected to provide clues about the Fed's tightening policy before the monetary policy meeting slated for Sept. 19-20.
All three US stock indexes closed higher Monday.
Tesla Inc. rose 10 percent after a Morgan Stanley report predicted the electric car maker's market value could grow by nearly $600 billion with its Dojo supercomputer designed for self-driving.
Shares in Seoul fell across the board, with large-cap tech and energy stocks leading the decline.
Top-cap Samsung Electronics slipped 0.42 percent to 70,500 won, and leading battery maker LG Energy Solution fell 1.67 percent to 499,500 won.
Steel giant Posco Holdings dipped 4.21 percent to 546,000 won, and its chemical materials making unit Posco Future M fell 2.58 percent to 397,000 won.
Major oil refiner SK Innovation slid 0.54 percent to 167,000 won.
Automakers advanced. Industry leader Hyundai Motor rose 0.38 percent to 186,200 won, and its auto parts-making affiliate Hyundai Mobis added 0.65 percent to 232,000 won.
Internet portal operator Naver also soared 3.78 percent to 219,500 won.
The Korean won ended at 1,327.80 won against the US dollar, up 3.3 won from Monday's close. (Yonhap)