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Seoul shares close lower ahead of key U.S. meeting

2018/03/14 16:00

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SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed 0.34 percent lower Wednesday as investors took to the sidelines a week before a rate-hike decision meeting by the U.S. Federal Reserve, analysts said. The local currency gained against the U.S. greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 8.41 points to finish at 2,486.08. Trade volume was moderate at 357 million shares worth 6.26 trillion won (US$5.88 billion), with losers outnumbering winners 502 to 324.

Foreigners turned to net sellers for the first time in four trading days to offload a net 129.6 billion won worth of local shares. Institutional investors also dumped a net 141.9 billion won.

"Investors are closely watching the atmosphere of the U.S. central bank as its key meeting is scheduled next Wednesday," Kim Young-hwan from KB Research Center said. "Along with the global financial markets, South Korea will move up and down in a narrow range."

   The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to take action at the Federal Open Market Committee next week, as it has planned to raise interest rates at least three times this year.

POSCO, South Korea's largest steelmaker, slumped 3.82 percent to 340,000 won, and Korea Zinc Inc., the top zinc smelter, lost 0.82 percent to 485,500 won following the U.S. move to impose tariffs on steel imports.

Gamemakers were bearish, with industry leader NCsoft Corp. tumbling 2.83 percent to 394,500 won and Netmarble Games Corp. closing at 147,000 won, down 1.01 percent.

Cosmetics firms also went south as No. 1 Amore Pacific dropped 1.95 percent to 301,500 won and runner-up LG Household and Health Care slid 2.91 percent to 1,135,000 won.

However, tech shares continued to rally thanks to a bright outlook on the global semiconductor market. Top chipmaker Samsung Electronics Co. rose 0.19 percent to 2,588,000 won and SK hynix added 0.78 percent to 90,700 won.

The local currency closed at 1,064.6 won against the U.S. dollar, up 2.9 won from the previous session.