South Korean stocks closed slightly lower Wednesday on profit-taking after the key index hit a record-high in the previous session. The Korean won gained against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index moved down 4.23 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 2,391.77. Trade volume was low at 266 million shares worth 5.3 trillion won ($4.62 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 541 to 267.
Seoul shares closed lower as investors took a breather after the market rose to a record level in the previous session, analysts said. The index closed at a fresh record high of 2,396.00 points, up from the previous record-high finish set on June 29, when the KOSPI closed at 2,395.66.
Analysts added that investors may continue to take a wait-and-see stance for the time being, amid the release of second-quarter earnings reports coupled with the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting.
"We need to take a close look at remarks by Fed officials ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting," said Kim Young-hwan, a researcher at KB Securities Co.
Foreigners bought a net 89 billion won, while institutions sold a net 320 billion won. Retail investors bought a net 180 billion won.
Mobile carriers closed bearish, with No. 1 SK Telecom falling 1.15 percent to 257,000 won and KT losing 1.37 percent to 32,450 won. LG Uplus shed 2.25 percent, ending at 15,200 won.
Steelmakers were also among losers, with top steelmaker POSCO moving down 0.65 percent to 306,000 won and Korea Zinc losing 0.54 percent to 458,000 won.
Carmakers finished higher, with industry leader Hyundai Motor increasing 0.68 percent to 149,000 won and its sister company Kia Motors rising 0.54 percent to 37,000 won. Top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis added 0.41 percent to 244,500 won.
But top market cap Samsung Electronics closed 1.8 percent higher, ending at a new record high of 2,494,000 won on the back of a brighter outlook over its earnings.
The local currency closed at 1,145.10 won against the U.S. dollar, up 6.00 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys remained flat at 1.762 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond lost 0.3 basis point to 1.958 percent. (Yonhap)