The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index inched down 2.16 points, or 0.09 percent, to close at 2,416.05. Trade volume was slim at 248.4 million shares worth 5.2 trillion won ($4.3 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 409 to 366.
Foreigners and institutions offloaded a net 143.6 billion won and 50.5 billion won worth of local stocks, respectively, targeting some major tech and insurance stocks, a move seen as cashing in recent gains, the analysts said. Meanwhile, individuals were net buyers by snatching up a net 149.8 billion won.
The local stock market opened a tad lower despite overnight gains on Wall Street. On Monday (local time), the major US indexes hit fresh record highs as investors were awaiting a Federal Reserve meeting scheduled for later this week. The Dow added 0.28 percent, and the S&P 500 was up 0.15 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 0.10 percent.
Analysts said investors took a breather following the recent rally and also took a wait-and-see stance ahead of the US Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
"Investors are increasingly taking a wait-and-see stance ahead of the FOMC meeting," said Kim Byong-yun, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities, noting that the market could have upward momentum after the FOMC meeting.
Most large caps closed mixed.
Steel and bio shares closed higher, with leading steelmaker POSCO closing at 324,500 won, up 3.85 percent. Samsung BioLogics, a biopharmaceutical affiliate of Samsung Group, added 2.89 percent to end at 338,000 won.
Shipbuilders also closed in positive terrain, with industry leader Hyundai Heavy Industries jumping 7.61 percent to close at 148,500 won. Samsung Heavy Industries, another major shipyard here, gained 3.64 percent to 11,000 won.
Tech shares ended bearish, with top cap Samsung Electronics ending at 2,606,000 won, down 0.69 percent. Its smaller rival LG Electronics lost 2.2 percent to 89,000 won, and LG Display, a major flat panel maker, shed 5 percent to 32,300 won.
SK hynix, a major chipmaker, also inched down 0.63 percent to 79,200 won to end a seventh-day winning streak.
Auto shares ended in positive terrain, with leading automaker Hyundai Motor adding 3.85 percent to 140,000 won. Its sister company, Kia Motors, was up 1.47 percent at 31,000 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis also inched up 0.46 percent to 217,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,131.4 won against the greenback, down 4.7 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 3.7 basis points to 1.779 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds advanced 2.9 basis points to 1.989 percent. (Yonhap)