Electronic signboards at the trading room of Hana Bank in Seoul show the benchmark Kospi closed at 2,601.54 on Wednesday, fell 16.22 points or 0.62 percent from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks ended a five-session winning streak Wednesday after hitting an all-time high the previous session, as investors dumped local stocks to lock in gains. The Korean won rose against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 16.22 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 2,601.54.
Trading volume was high at about 1.4 billion shares worth some 21.3 trillion won ($19.2 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 653 to 210.
Foreigners sold a net 135 billion won, and retail investors purchased a net 503 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 615 billion won.
The KOSPI had a strong start after record gains on Wall Street, as US political uncertainty receded with US President-elect Joe Biden starting his White House transition. Hopes of COVID-19 vaccine development also elevated investor sentiment.
But stocks switched to losses in the early afternoon on investors' profit-taking drive. Analysts attributed the shift mainly to the foreign selling.
Foreigners extended their buying spree for a 15th straight session -- the longest since the 19-session streak that ended in August 2016 -- but their daily buying has narrowed every session this week.
"Foreigners' aggressiveness and the longevity of their buying spree seem to have become increasingly important to the local stock markets," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 1.62 percent to 66,600 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix shed 1.42 percent to 97,200 won.
Internet portal giant Naver declined 1.42 percent to 278,500 won, with its rival Kakao dipping 1.61 percent to 367,000 won.
Leading chemical maker LG Chem fell 1.38 percent to 788,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI dropped 2.54 percent to 538,000 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, fell 0.83 percent to 179,500 won, while top steelmaker Posco advanced 0.2 percent to 245,000 won.
Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics edged up 0.12 percent to 803,000 won. Celltrion spiked 9.45 percent to 305,000 won, following reports that the company is about to file for conditional approval for its antibody treatment CT-P59.
The local currency closed at 1,108.9 won per dollar, up 3.8 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 0.8 basis point to 0.971 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 1.9 basis points to 1.308 percent. (Yonhap)