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Seoul stocks dip over 1% amid inflation worries

South Korean stocks retreated more than 1 percent Wednesday, as strong US economic data raised concerns about an earlier than expected rate hike by the US Federal Reserve amid rising inflation. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) lost 34.79 points, or 1.16 percent, to close at 2,962.42 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 533 million shares worth some 10.5 trillion won ($8.9 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 730 to 157.

Foreigners bought a net 77 billion won and individuals purchased 769 billion won, while institutions sold a net 886 billion won.

US retail sales in October logged the biggest gain since March, driving up the US Treasury yields and strengthening the dollar against other currencies.

"The estimate-beating US retail sales seem to be adding to the possibilities of a stronger tapering (of the US Fed's stimulus)," said Bookook Securities analyst Lee Won.

In Seoul, market bellwether Samsung Electronics decreased 0.84 percent to 70,700 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix declined 1.34 percent to 110,500 won, and pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics retreated 2.52 percent to 850,000 won.

Hyundai Motor, the country's largest carmaker, climbed 0.24 percent to 207,000 won, while its smaller affiliate Kia moved down 0.24 percent to 84,000 won.

Gaming heavyweight Krafton jumped 3.66 percent to 567,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,182.5 won against the US dollar, down 2.6 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)

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