Gravity returns to market and Kospi loses 3.88 points
Korean shares fell Tuesday after hitting a nearly three-year high the previous session, as valuation pressure offset optimism over Moderna's experimental Covid-19 vaccine. The won rose against the dollar.
After choppy trading, the benchmark Kospi fell 3.88 points, or 0.15 percent, to close at 2,539.15.
Trading volume was high at about 1.2 billion shares worth around 17.5 trillion won ($15.8 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 524 to 318.
Foreigners purchased a net 359 billion won, extending their buying streak to a ninth session. Retail investors bought a net 152 billion won, while institutions offloaded a net 513 billion won.
"Yesterday's rally seems to have increased investors' desire for profit-taking," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said Tuesday.
Valuation pressure and the unrelenting coronavirus toll increased investor caution, while strong test results from Moderna's experimental Covid-19 vaccine prevented the Kospi's further decline.
Auto and battery-related stocks outperformed on massive foreign buying, while tech gains slowed.
Samsung Electronics retreated 0.9 percent to 65,700 won, while chipmaker SK hynix edged up 0.1 percent to 98,100 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics gained 2.11 percent to 774,000 won, but Celltrion shed 0.87 percent to 286,000 won.
Internet portal Naver sank 1.08 percent to 275,000 won, with its rival Kakao remained flat at 362,000 won.
Chemical maker LG Chem rose 1.33 percent to 686,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI gained 1.65 percent to 493,500 won.
Hyundai Motor moved up 1.96 percent to 182,500 won, while steelmaker Posco slipped 0.21 percent to 238,500 won.
Korean Air Lines sank 8.91 percent to 24,550 won after it announced it would take over smaller rival Asiana Airlines. Hanjin KAL, the parent company of Korean Air, tumbled 8.88 percent to 74,900 won. Asiana Airlines jumped 4.13 percent to 5,800 won.
The Kosdaq fell 7.86 points, or 0.93 percent, to close at 839.47.
The local currency closed at 1,106.6 won per dollar, down 2.7 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year bonds shed 1.1 basis points to close at 0.96 percent, and the return on the 10-year bond added 0.9 basis points to close at 0.9 percent.
BY LEE JEE-YOUNG, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]