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Seoul shares end slightly down amid market uncertainty ahead of Fed meeting

An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks finished slightly lower Tuesday amid inflation woes and uncertainty over this week's US Federal Reserve meeting. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) retreated 6.99 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 2,680.46.

Trading volume was moderate at about 869 million shares worth some 9 trillion won ($7.1 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 475 to 368.

Institutions sold a net 214 billion won, while foreign and retail investors bought a net 119 billion won and 105 billion won, respectively.

The market started in positive terrain, but the gains were pared in the last trading hours as investors remained wary ahead of the Fed's monetary policy-setting meeting Wednesday (US time).

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by half a percentage point, embarking on a rapid series of aggressive rate increases to tame runaway inflation.

Investors also digested South Korea's fresh inflation data, which showed consumer prices hiked 4.8 percent on-year in April, the fastest pace in more than 13 years, due to soaring energy costs caused by Russia's war with Ukraine and a rebound in demand from the pandemic.

"The market moved in line with other Asian stocks in retreat ahead of the FOMC meeting," Lee Woong-chan, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities, said. "Investors are taking a wait-and-see approach until uncertainties are cleared about the major event."

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics edged up 0.3 percent to 67,500 won, and internet portal operator Naver gained 0.36 percent to 282,000 won.

Chipmaker SK hynix shed 0.45 percent to 110,000 won, pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics lost 0.72 percent to close at 832,000 won, and top battery maker LG Energy Solution shed 0.24 percent to 407,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,267.80 won against the US dollar, down 2.7 won from the previous session. (Yonhap)

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