Seoul stocks inch down as investors wait for Fed signal
Stocks retreated Monday, weighed by concerns over the possibility of the U.S. Federal Reserve speeding up tapering and rate hikes. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi fell 28.17 points, or 0.95 percent, to close at 2,926.72 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 470 million shares worth some 10.2 trillion won ($8.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 615 to 259.
Institutions sold a net 500 billion won and foreign investors offloaded 88 billion won, while retail investors bought 573 billion won.
The Kospi's decline came amid expectations the Fed has signaled it will complete its tapering and begin rate hikes as early as March in recently unveiled minutes on its December meeting.
On Friday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 0.96 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.01 percent amid rate hike concerns.
Investors are waiting for the Federal Reserve chairman's hearing in the Senate on Tuesday, seeking clues about the U.S. central bank's stance about the rate hikes.
"Investors are worried that Powell might make hawkish comments about inflation in the hearing," Samsung Securities analyst Jeong Myung-ji said.
Most large caps closed lower in Seoul.
Samsung Electronics decreased 0.38 percent to 78,000 won, and chipmaker SK hynix shed 1.97 percent to 124,500 won.
Internet portal operator Naver retreated 0.89 percent to 335,000 won, with Kakao slumping 3.4 percent to 96,600 won.
Pharmaceutical company Samsung Biologics declined 0.95 percent to 836,000 won, and Celltrion rose 2.47 percent to 187,000 won.
Carmaker Hyundai Motor lost 2.56 percent to 209,500 won while its affiliate Kia declined 3.34 percent to 83,800 won.
The local currency closed at 1,199.1 won to the dollar, down 2.4 won from the previous session's close.
The Kosdaq lost 14.78 points, or 1.49 percent, to close at 980.38.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year government bonds soared 4.7 basis points to 2.061 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bond rose 4.4 basis points to 1.76 percent.
BY SHIN HA-NEE, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]