South Korean stocks closed 1.16 percent lower Thursday as investors' sentiment was dented by rising woes over an anticipated tapering of U.S. quantitative easing moves, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 23.46 points to finish at 1,993.78. Trading volume was low at 281.3 million shares worth 3.24 trillion won ($3.07 billion) with losers outnumbering gainers 576 to 230.
Analysts said Seoul shares lost ground as the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest minutes released overnight implied that the central bank may commence a scaling-back of its bond buying program "in coming months."
U.S. stocks also closed lower Wednesday following the release of the minutes, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling 0.41 percent and tech-laden NASDAQ composite index losing 0.26 percent.
"The market's decline came as a tapering of U.S. quantitative easing is expected to have an adverse impact on the market's liquidity," said Lee Sang-jae, a researcher at Hyundai Securities Co.
Monetary easing moves by an advanced country usually cause investors to set their sights on riskier emerging markets, while a reduction leads them to relocate their investments.
Foreigners offloaded a net 236.2 billion won worth of local equities, while institutions sold a net 48.6 billion won.
Individuals, on the other hand, bought a net 270 billion won.
Tech shares traded lower, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics falling 2.04 percent to 1,440,000 won and top chipmaker SK hynix losing 1.38 percent to 32,050 won. LG Electronics shed 1.33 percent to 66,600 won.
Carmakers also lost ground, with Hyundai Motor moving down 0.39 percent to 253,500 won, and its auto-parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis losing 0.33 percent to 302,000 won. Kia Motors decreased 0.16 percent to 61,600 won.
Builders also traded bearish, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction moving down 1.16 percent to 59,600 won and Daewoo Engineering & Construction decreasing 2.06 percent to 8,080 won.
Daelim Industrial shed 1.69 percent to 93,000 won.
Logistics companies closed lower, with Hyundai Glovis falling 2.55 percent to 229,500 won, and CJ Korea Express losing 2.37 percent to 82,300 won. Top air carrier Korean Air shed 1.52 percent to 29,150 won.
The local currency ended at 1,062.90 won against the greenback, down 5 won from Wednesday's close, dealers said. (Yonhap News)