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Seoul stocks tumbles to 13-month low ahead of Fed meeting

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap)
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap)
South Korea's main stock index plunged to a 13-month low Monday, as investors dumped local stocks ahead of the US Federal Reserve's policy meeting this week. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi dived 42.29 points, or 1.49 percent, to close at 2,792 points. The Kospi closed below the 2,800-point mark for the first time since Dec. 23, 2020.

Trading volume was moderate at about 468 million shares worth some 9.2 trillion won ($7.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 817 to 86.

Foreigners dumped a net 436 billion won and retail investors offloaded 137 billion won, while institutions bought 593 billion won.

Selloffs were conspicuous in such growth stocks as tech companies that are usually more sensitive to high borrowing costs.

The US Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise its policy interest rate in March. Investors are keeping a close eye on the Fed's two-day meeting that will start Tuesday (local time), as it could provide clues on the direction of the US central bank's monetary policy.

"Investors' eyes are on the upcoming January Federal Open Market Committee meeting and whether the Fed's stance would turn out more hawkish than the consensus," Korea Investment & Securities analyst Kim Dae-joon said.

In Seoul, market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 0.66 percent to 75,100 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix closed unchanged from the previous session at 119,000 won.

Internet portal operator Naver closed down 1.35 percent to 328,500 won, chemical behemoth LG Chem dipped 3.31 percent to 671,000 won, and pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics declined 0.86 percent to 811,000 won.

Leading automaker Hyundai Motor retreated 1.5 percent to 197,000 won, with financial heavyweight KB Financial Group losing 2.49 percent to 58,800 won.

The local currency closed at 1,196.1 won to the US dollar, down 2.1 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)

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