South Korean stocks closed slightly lower Tuesday as investors were divided over the U.S. Fed’s future moves, as some anticipate that it may accelerate the tapering of quantitative easing, analysts said. The Korean won closed lower against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed 2.85 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,946.07. Trading volume was low at 237.8 million shares worth 3.36 trillion won ($3.18 billion) with losers outpacing gainers 466 to 327.
Analysts said Seoul shares traded almost flat as investors were divided over the impact of weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data on the Federal Open Market Committee meeting slated for Jan. 28-29.
The Fed, which has operated an $85 billion monthly bond-buying program in a bid to boost the U.S. economy by keeping interest rates low, announced last month that it would begin reducing bond purchases by $10 billion per month starting in January, citing signs of an economic recovery.
The U.S. added 74,000 jobs in December, hovering far below the market estimate of 197,000, which raised hopes that the central bank may not consider speeding up its tapering.
“Although investors are divided over the U.S. jobs data, the eased concerns over the weak Japanese yen limited the local market’s decline,” said Kim Hak-gyun, an analyst at KDB Daewoo Securities.
Kim Soon-young, an analyst at IBK Securities Co., echoed the view, adding that the Japanese yen lost ground against the greenback overnight as the jobs data put a shadow over the recovery of the world’s No. 1 economy.
Foreigners and institutions offloaded 28.2 billion won and 53.2 billion worth of Seoul shares on the main bourse, respectively. In contrast, individual investors scooped up a net 65.4 billion won.
Builders lost ground, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction moving down 5.1 percent to 57,700 won, and Daewoo Engineering & Construction decreasing 3.78 percent to 6,370 won. Daelim Industrial lost 1.18 percent to 83,500 won.
Tech shares, in contrast, closed higher, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics adding 1.39 percent to 1,313,000 won, and SK hynix moving up 0.66 percent 38,400 won. LG Electronics climbed 1.52 percent to 66,900 won.
Carmakers trading was mixed, with Hyundai Motor advancing 1.75 percent to 232,000 won and its auto parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis adding 0.18 percent to 280,000 won. Kia Motors shed 0.76 percent to 52,100 won.
The local currency ended at 1,059.10 won to the U.S. dollar, down 2.40 won from Monday’s close. (Yonhap News)