Seoul stocks down for 4th day on Fed uncertainties, virus worries

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks continued to slide, closing at an over one year low Wednesday, with investors' eyes on the ongoing U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) retreated 11.15 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 2,709.24 points. The reading marks the lowest number since the 2,700.93 point closing on Dec. 8, 2020.

Trading volume was moderate at about 466 million shares worth some 8.8 trillion won (US$7.3 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 487 to 375.

Foreigners dumped a net 245 billion won worth of stocks, and institutions offloaded 17 billion won, while retail investors bought 226 billion won.

Stocks retreated for a fourth consecutive session amid lingering uncertainties about the Fed's two-day policy meeting.

Overnight, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite plunged 2.58 percent amid expectations of the Fed's hawkish signals. The market consensus is that the Fed could make comments related to the first interest rate hike this year, widely expected in March.

The KOSPI started off higher as investors sought to buy oversold stocks after the recent stock plunge. But the key stock index dipped to losses in the afternoon as the meeting results draw near.

The Fed's meeting results will be disclosed Thursday (Korea time) before the opening of the local stock market.

"Stocks seem to have traded without clear directions. Investors took their wait-and-see mode over the large uncertainties ahead of the FOMC meeting results tonight," said Kiwoom Securities analyst Kim Sae-hun.

In Seoul, top cap Samsung Electronics lost 0.95 percent to 73,300 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix decreased 0.42 percent to 117,500 won.

Internet portal operator Naver retreated 2.8 percent to 313,000 won, and leading automaker Hyundai Motor lost 2.31 percent to 190,000 won.

Among gainers, leading chemical firm LG Chem jumped 3.27 percent to 664,000 won, and financial heavyweight KB Financial Group advanced 3.5 percent to 59,100 won.

The local currency closed at 1,197.7 won against the U.S. dollar, up 0.9 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 1.8 basis points to 2.156 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 2.6 basis points to 2.367 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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