5-day winning streak ends as Kospi drops 0.62 percent
The benchmark Kospi fell 16.22 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 2,601.54.
Trading volume was high at about 1.4 billion shares worth some 21.3 trillion won ($19.2 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 653 to 210.
Foreigners bought a net 135 billion won, and retail investors purchased a net 503 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 615 billion won.
The Kospi had a strong start after gains on Wall Street, as U.S. political uncertainty receded with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden starting his White House transition. Hopes of Covid-19 vaccine development also elevated investor sentiment.
But stocks switched to losses in the early afternoon on profit-taking. Analysts attributed the shift mainly to foreign selling.
Foreigners extended their buying spree for a 15th straight session — the longest since the 19-session streak that ended in August 2016 — but their daily buying has narrowed every session this week.
"Foreigners' aggressiveness and the longevity of their buying spree seem to have become increasingly important to the local stock markets," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Samsung Electronics lost 1.62 percent to 66,600 won, and chipmaker SK hynix shed 1.42 percent to 97,200 won.
Naver declined 1.42 percent to 278,500 won, with its rival Kakao dipping 1.61 percent to 367,000 won.
Chemical maker LG Chem fell 1.38 percent to 788,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI dropped 2.54 percent to 538,000 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, fell 0.83 percent to 179,500 won, while steelmaker Posco advanced 0.2 percent to 245,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics edged up 0.12 percent to 803,000 won. Celltrion spiked 9.45 percent to 330,000 won, following reports that the company is about to file for conditional approval for its antibody treatment CT-P59.
The Kosdaq lost 6.98 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 865.12.
The local currency closed at 1,108.9 won per dollar, down 3.8 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The three-year bond gained 0.5 basis points to 0.97 percent, and the return on the 10-year bond added 3.1 basis points to close at 0.88 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [email@example.com]