Stocks stall ahead of major U.S. inflation data release
Stocks inched up Thursday in choppy trading, as investors took a wait-and-see attitude ahead of a U.S. inflation data release, a key gauge for the Federal Reserve's economic diagnosis. The won closed unchanged against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Kospi climbed 3.08 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 2,771.93 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 500 million shares worth some 12.6 trillion won ($10.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 471 to 374.
Institutions sold a net 539 billion won and retail investors offloaded 310 billion won, while foreigners bought 838 billion won.
The key stock index opened higher on overnight gains on Wall Street but turned choppy amid cautious investor sentiment.
Investors are paying keen attention to the U.S. consumer price index for January, set to be released later in the day, seeking clues about how aggressive the Fed's policy tightening will be.
"Uncertainties about the interest rates have added pressure to the stock markets ahead of the U.S. CPI data release," Eugene Investment & Securities analyst Huh Jae-hwan said.
"A fall in the U.S. Treasury yields somewhat relieved the rate hike jitters but was not enough," he added.
Samsung Electronics added 0.94 percent to 75,400 won, and chipmaker SK hynix advanced 2.78 percent to 129,500 won.
Internet portal operator Naver moved up 1.69 percent to 331,500 won, and Kakao gained 1.39 percent to 87,300 won.
LG Chem surged 8.36 percent to 661,000 won. Automaker Hyundai Motor inched up 0.27 percent to 185,500 won.
Among losers, LG Energy Solution plunged 7.14 percent to 474,500 won, and steelmaker Posco lost 0.71 percent to 280,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,196.5 won against the dollar, unchanged from the previous session's close.
The Kosdaq lost 14.85 points, or 1.63 percent, to close at 895.68.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year government bonds lost 1.5 basis points to 2.264 percent, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond declined 1.7 basis points to 1.94 percent.
BY SHIN HA-NEE, YONHAP [email@example.com]