Seoul shares fell 0.2 pct on profit-taking
SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks lost 0.24 percent Wednesday as investors moved to lock in profits from earlier gains amid rising hopes for a recovery in major economies. The local currency dropped sharply against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 4.49 points to close at 1,883.81, ending its two-day winning streak. Trading volume was moderate at 333.89 million shares worth 5.06 trillion won (US$4.13 billion), with losers outnumbering winners 499 to 318.
The local shares started a tad higher tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, but have moved in and out of the negative territory before ending with modest losses.
"There do exist positive signs that point to a recovery in the global economy, including solid gains in China, European banks' efforts to stem risks, and higher chances of a cut in oil production," said Kang Hyun-chul, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.
"But it is too early to expect investors to make a solid comeback as it would take time before major economies present reliable, tangible measures," he added.
Chemicals led the fall, offsetting gains in tech and auto shares.
Industry leader LG Chemical tumbled 2.9 percent 285,000 won, and No. 2 oil refiner S-Oil decreased 1.16 percent to 76,500 won. Major cosmetics also traded bearish amid concerns over weak demand from China. AmorePacific skidded 5.2 percent to 346,500 won and Korea Kolmar nosedived 12.36 percent to 70,900 won.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics, however, advanced 1.46 percent to 1,185,000 won, and No. 1 chipmaker SK hynix jumped 3.98 percent to 30,050 won as investors picked up bargains which have been battered this year.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor surged 4.26 percent to 147,000 won, after announcing that it will finally kick off a project to build a 105-story structure early next year in the southern part of Seoul.
The local currency ended at 1,227.10 won against the U.S. dollar, down 10.5 won from Tuesday's close.