Seoul stocks slump on U.S. tapering woes

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks closed lower Thursday as investor sentiment turned against risk assets, following the U.S. tapering jitters that stemmed from the latest Federal Reserve minutes. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 10.77 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 3,162.28 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 754 million shares worth some 13 trillion won (US$11.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 516 to 346.

Foreigners sold a net 651 billion won, while retail investors purchased 858 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 201 billion won.

After a lackluster start, the KOSPI continued to lose ground amid foreign and institutional selling.

Stocks fell tracking the decline in U.S. stocks that was largely caused by the Federal Reserve's minutes suggesting the possibility of an earlier-than-expected tapering amid signs of a fast economic recovery.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.48 percent, with the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite decreasing 0.03 percent and 0.29 percent, respectively.

"Local stock prices fell after the Fed commented on the possibility of adjusting the pace of its asset-buying program for the first time in its April minutes," Shinhan Investment Corp. analyst Kim Da-mi said.

In Seoul, top cap Samsung Electronics edged down 0.13 percent to 79,500 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix advanced 1.24 percent to 122,500 won.

Internet portal operator Naver gained 0.43 percent to 351,000 won, but pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics declined 0.34 percent to 891,000 won.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem added 2.5 percent to 903,000 won, but top automaker Hyundai Motor lost 2.81 percent to 224,500 won. Giant steelmaker POSCO dipped 5.32 percent to 365,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,132 won against the U.S. dollar, down 1.5 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.4 basis point to 1.103 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 1.7 basis points to 1.642 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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