South Korean stocks extended a fifth-day losing streak Wednesday as upward momentum faded after enjoying a sharp rally and investors grew cautious over economic uncertainties at home and abroad. The Korean won rose against the greenback.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index dropped 8.38 points, or 0.33 percent, to close at 2,518.26. Trade volume was moderate as 394.23 million shares worth 7.19 trillion won ($6.46 billion) changed hands with losers far outnumbering gainers 563 to 270.
"KOSPI has lost upward momentum after breaking through the 2,500 point-threshold as investors are trying to lock in gains from the recent rally," Kim Dae-jun, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities, said. "Investors are shifting their focus from KOSPI to KODAQ to hunt undervalued stocks in the secondary market."
Foreign and retail investor each sold a net 64.99 billion won and 41.9 billion worth of local stocks, while institutions bought a net 81.96 billion won.
Tech shares were bearish. Top market cap Samsung Electronics decreased 1.04 percent to 2,767,000 won, and SK hynix, the world's second-largest chipmaker, lost 1.68 percent to 82,000 won.
Petrochemical shares were depressed after a steep drop in crude oil prices weighed down energy sector stocks on Wall Street on Tuesday.
SK Innovation, the nation's largest refiner, dropped 3.45 percent to 196,000 won, and No. 3 S-Oil retreated 1.67 percent to 117,500 won.
Leading steel maker POSCO dropped 3.61 percent to 307,500 won.
In contrast, Hyundai Motor, the nation's biggest automaker, gained 0.62 percent to 161,000 won and industry leader LG Chem advanced 1.15 percent to 397,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,112.3 won against the US dollar, up 5.8 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, rose. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 3.4 basis points to 2.177 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds lost 3.7 basis points to 2.380 percent. (Yonhap)