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Seoul stocks down on Powell's tapering comments, Evergrande scare

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks retreated Thursday after the three-day Chuseok holiday in the face of comments by the US Federal Reserve's chief that it could start tapering its stimulus as early as November, as well as growing woes over a default of a giant Chinese real estate developer. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 12.93 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 3,127.58 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 612 million shares worth some 13.8 trillion won ($11.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 715 to 178.

Foreigners bought a net 553 billion won, while retail investors sold 310 billion won worth of stocks. Institutions offloaded a net 227 billion won.

Stocks dipped more than 1 percent early in the morning but pared earlier losses on foreign buying.

Investors digested the overnight US FOMC meeting results that it could begin reducing its asset-buying program in November and finish the process by next year.

Investors also kept a close eye on the debt fiasco at China's Evergrande Group, one of the country's largest property developers, that has increased volatility in the global financial markets for the past few days.

"During the Chuseok holiday, the US stock markets were subject to high volatility from the China Evergrande case and the FOMC meeting results," Kiwoom Securities analyst Han Ji-young said.

"Such a combination of events seems to have fallen on the local stock markets all at once (today)," he said.

In Seoul, top cap Samsung Electronics gained 0.26 percent to 77,400 won, but No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix retreated 1.4 percent to 105,500 won.

Internet portal operator Naver moved down 0.74 percent to 400,000 won, and pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics decreased 1.39 percent to 920,000 won.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem soared 8.42 percent to 760,000 won, while top automaker Hyundai Motor declined 0.24 percent to 208,500 won. Top bank stock Kakao Bank lost 2.35 percent to 66,400 won.

The local currency closed at 1,175.5 won against the US dollar, down 0.5 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)
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