South Korean stocks ended lower on Tuesday as institutions went on profit taking, but top cap Samsung Electronics and second most-valued SK hynix surged to fresh record highs, aided by heavy foreign buying. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 1.67 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 2,369.23. Trade volume was moderate at 346.16 million shares worth 6.67 trillion won, with decliners outnumbering advancers 618 to 199.
Institutional investors sold a net 656.23 billion won worth of stocks on profit taking. Foreigners and individuals scooped up stocks worth a combined 607 billion won but their buying spree was not strong enough to help the main index end in positive territory.
Large-cap stocks were mixed across the board.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 3.39 percent to an all-time high of 2,407,000 won. Major chipmaker SK hynix advanced 1.91 percent to a fresh record high of 64,000 won.
The country's most-valued firms jumped on the back of rosy earnings outlook for their chip businesses. Samsung, the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones, was also boosted by a recovery in its smartphone business.
Among losers, top carmaker Hyundai Motor fell 0.30 percent to 166,500 won. State-run electricity provider Korea Electric Power Corp. declined 2.02 percent to 41,200 won as the new government is seeking to move away from decades-long nuclear power-based energy policy.
Cosmetics giant AmorePacific was down 2.12 percent to 300,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,135.40 won against the US dollar, down 2.70 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 0.2 basis point to 1.685 percent but the return on benchmark five-year government bonds fell 0.7 basis point to 1.850 percent. (Yonhap)