Stocks flat ahead of Fed comments and on inflation concern
Stocks finished nearly unchanged Tuesday as investors await comments by the U.S. Federal Reserve chief at a Senate hearing. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi edged up 0.66 points, or 0.02 percent, to close at 2,927.38 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 559 million shares worth some 10.5 trillion won ($8.8 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 717 to 170.
Institutions sold a net 268 billion won, and retail investors offloaded 217 billion won, while foreigners bought 486 billion won.
Stocks started solid on bargain hunting as investors sought to buy oversold stocks after the Kospi's recent slump.
But earlier gains were pared as investors took to the sidelines ahead of the Fed chairman's speech at the U.S. Senate hearing, slated for later in the day.
"Investors seem to be waiting until the Fed chairman's hearing and the U.S. inflation data," said HI Investment & Securities analyst Park Sang-hyun.
Tech, auto and chemical stocks rose, but their advances were offset by a decline in some banking stocks and shipbuilders.
Samsung Electronics added 1.15 percent to 78,900 won, chipmaker SK hynix increased 2.81 percent to 128,000 won, and electric car battery maker LG Chem jumped 3.38 percent to 734,000 won.
Carmaker Hyundai Motor gained 0.48 percent to 210,500 won while its affiliate Kia rose 0.36 percent to 84,100won.
Pharmaceutical company Celltrion surged 5.08 percent to 196,500 won, and SK Bioscience gained 1.64 percent to 216,500 won. Financial firm KB Financial Group rose 3.81 percent to 60,000 won.
Among losers, text message app operator Kakao lost 1.66 percent to 95,000 won, and steelmaker Posco declined 1.32 percent to 300,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,194.7 won against the dollar, down 4.40 won from the previous session's close.
The Kosdaq lost 10.46 points, or 1.07 percent, to close at 969.92.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year government bonds lost 2.3 basis points to 2.038 percent, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond declined 0.2 basis point to 1.76 percent.
BY SHIN HA-NEE [email@example.com]