The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks retreated Wednesday, led by strong institutional sell-offs. The Korean won rose against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) fell 15.91 points, or 0.53 percent, to close at 3,013.13 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 668 million shares worth some 11 trillion won ($9.4 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 521 to 337.
Institutions sold a net 208 billion won, while retail investors bought 284 billion won. Foreigners offloaded a net 73 billion won.
The key stock index got off to a solid start on overnight gains on Wall Street but turned to losses amid institutional selling.
Overnight, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 0.71 percent to 15,129 points on hopes of strong corporate earnings, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.56 percent to 35,457 points.
"Investors' expectations about the stock performance seem to have come under adjustment, (leading to the institutional sell-offs)," said Bookook Securities analyst Lee Won.
South Korea's new virus cases stayed below 2,000 for the 12th consecutive day Wednesday amid the rising rate of vaccinations.
As of Wednesday, 66.7 percent of the 52 million population was fully vaccinated, and 78.9 percent had received a first shot.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 0.42 percent to 70,300 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix climbed 0.2 percent to 97,900 won.
Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor and electric car battery maker Samsung SDI closed unchanged at 209,000 won and 727,000 won, respectively. Internet portal operator Naver also closed flat at 407,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,174.2 won against the US dollar, up 4.5 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)