South Korean stocks closed 0.61 percent lower on Monday, as investors took to the sidelines on weakened risk appetite following a thwarted legislation of a US healthcare bill pushed forward by the Donald Trump administration, analysts said. The local currency rose against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index finished down 13.29 points to 2,155.66. Trading volume was moderate at 390.9 million shares worth 5.02 trillion won ($4.51 billion) with decliners outnumbering gainers 504 to 301.
Analysts said investor sentiment was sapped by political uncertainties in the United States, after the House of Representatives late last week pulled a healthcare legislation spearheaded by the new president due to shortage of votes. This dealt a blow to the administration's efforts to dismantle the state healthcare system known as Obamacare.
"If US stock markets are further weighed by doubts on Trump agendas, the Korean market could also see foreign net purchase weaken," Kim Young-hwan, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp., said.
After snapping up some 2.7 trillion-won net worth in the Seoul market over the past three weeks, foreigners slowed on the net buying of local equities, with a net 36.3 billion won on Monday.
Individuals also scooped up a net 18.4 billion won, while institutions unloaded 106 billion won worth of shares compared to what they bought.
Shares lost ground across the board, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics sliding 0.72 percent to 2,060,000 won, and leading carmaker Hyundai Motor also sinking 1.2 percent to 162,000 won.
Financial and cosmetics stocks drove down the main index.
Shinhan Financial dipped 1.94 percent to 48,050 won, with top beauty product maker AmorePacific falling 0.69 percent to 286,000 won.
In contrast, shares of chipmaker SK hynix rose 2.42 percent to 50,700 won on a rosy earnings outlook. Naver, the country's No. 1 Internet search engine operator, also advanced 1.5 percent to 885,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,112.80 won against the greenback, up 9.8 won from Friday's close. (Yonhap)