Four-day winning streak snapped by inflation fears
Stocks ended a four-session winning streak Thursday as investors locked in gains amid concerns of inflation. The won fell against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi retreated 31.17 points, or 0.97 percent, to close at 3,175.85 points.
Trading volume was moderate at 731.76 million shares worth some 13.99 trillion won ($11.8 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 472 to 371.
Foreigners offloaded a net 382 billion won worth of local shares, and institutions sold a net 575 billion won. Retail investors scooped up a net 943 billion won.
Trading got off to a lackluster start, following a mixed session on Wall Street, as investors attempted to cash in gains.
"The Kospi fell as foreign and institutional selling grew," Mirae Asset Securities analyst Park Kwang-nam said. "Most sectors kept steady, although banking shares expanded losses amid reports of KakaoBank's block deal."
Shares in the online lender dropped on reports that the Korea Post offloaded the majority of its stake a day earlier in after-hours trading.
Park added that inflation concerns also lingered after new data showed that Korea's consumer prices rose 2.6 percent last month from a year earlier.
Rising inflation led the country's central bank to raise the benchmark interest rate last month for the first time in nearly three years.
Most large caps in Seoul closed lower.
Samsung Electronics retreated 1.04 percent to 76,000 won, and chipmaker SK hynix lost 1.39 percent to 106,500 won.
Kakaobank plunged 7.77 percent to 81,900 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI slumped 4.82 percent to 750,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics fell 1.46 percent to 948,000 won, and automaker Hyundai Motor slipped 1.63 percent to 211,500 won.
Internet portal operator Naver moved down 0.56 percent to 442,500 won, while Kakao added 0.65 percent to 155,000 won.
The Kosdaq gained 1.21 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 1,047.19.
The local currency closed at 1,161.5 won against the dollar, up 4.3 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year government bonds added 0.5 basis point to 1.422 percent, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond lost 0.8 basis point to 1.29 percent.
BY LEE TAE-HEE, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]