South Korean stocks closed lower for the second straight day Wednesday, as investors were cautious to make risky bets ahead of the earnings season set to kick off next week. The local currency inched up against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index lost 11.07 points, or 0.47 percent, to 2,368.32. Trading volume was moderate at 528.3 million shares worth 5.43 trillion won ($4.38 billion) with decliners outpacing gainers 548 to 296.
"Anticipation over the fourth-quarter earnings is already low, but the market would react dramatically to the earnings results, depending on each company or industry, making the market more volatile and leaving investors unsettled," Kim Jee-hyun, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co.
Companies are expected to announce their quarterly earnings results beginning next week, with the market consensus leaning toward lackluster performances in some sectors amid a sluggish economy.
Top-listed tech and steel companies dragged down the main index, with Samsung Electronics falling 0.1 percent to 60,400 won and chipmaker SK hynix losing 1.05 percent to 85,100 won.
Steel giant Posco Holdings slid 1.8 percent to 300,000 won.
Auto related stocks also finished in the red. Industry leader Hyundai Motor fell 0.9 percent to 164,500 won, and Hyundai Mobis, its auto components supplier, slumped 3 percent to 209,000 won.
Air carriers, on the other hand, closed in the positive territory. Korean Air Lines climbed 1.2 percent to 24,750 won, and Asiana Airlines jumped 5.1 percent to 15,400 won.
Mobile carriers also finished higher. Top player SK Telecom rose 0.9 percent to 47,250 won, and its rival KT gained 1.2 percent to 34,900 won.
The local currency ended at 1,237.40 won against the US dollar, up 1.3 won from Tuesday's close. (Yonhap)