South Korean stocks closed almost flat Wednesday as investors sat on the sidelines amid rising economic uncertainties from abroad, analysts said. The Korean won closed higher against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed
0.48 points, or 0.02 percent, to 1,958.96. Trading volume was low at 213 million shares worth 4.27 trillion won ($4.01 billion) with gainers outpacing losers 453 to 346.
Analysts said Seoul shares lost ground as investors remained concerned over a slow economic recovery in China, the largest trading partner of Asia's fourth-largest economy.
"China's weak economic data, and the depreciation of the Japanese yen (against the Korean won) weighed down on investors' sentiment," said Park Sung-hoon, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities.
Park added the expiration of options and the Bank of Korea's monetary policy meeting on Thursday also caused investors to take a wait-and-see approach.
Analysts said investors were also concerned on the listed firms' fourth-quarter earnings for fiscal 2013, with Samsung Electronics announcing Tuesday that its operating profit estimate for the period came to 8.3 trillion won, down 18.31 percent from a year earlier.
Foreigners scooped up 156 billion won worth of Seoul shares on the main bourse. In contrast, individual investors and institutions offloaded a net 55.8 billion won and 117.9 billion won, respectively.
Tech shares closed mostly lower, with Samsung Electronics falling 1 percent to 1,291,000 won and LG Electronics losing 0.91 percent to 65,600 won. Carmakers traded mixed, with Hyundai Motor adding 0.22 percent to 229,500 won while Hyundai Mobis lost 0.54 percent to 276,000 won. Kia Motors shed 0.19 percent to 53,900 won.
Logistics shares gathered ground, with Hyundai Glovis advancing
0.45 percent to 224,000 won and CJ Korea Express moving up 0.97 percent to 104,000 won. Top air carrier Korean Air climbed 2.56 percent to 32,000 won.
Hotel Shilla, a South Korean luxury hotel and resort operator, jumped 11.46 percent to 71,000 won on reports its travel retail division Shilla Duty Free has secured rights to operate perfume and cosmetics stores at Singapore's Changi Airport.
The local currency ended at 1,064.90 won to the U.S. dollar, up 3.40 won from Tuesday's close. (Yonhap News)