South Korean shares fell for the two straight sessions on Thursday as investors were reluctant to buy stocks amid lingering concerns over Europe and China caused by the announcement of weak economic indicators in the regions.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 3. 35 points, or 0.17 percent, to close at 1,992.68. Trading volume stood at 584.88 million shares worth 4.82 trillion won (4.33 billion U.S. dollars).
The KOSPI stayed in a narrow box range throughout the session as investors took to the sidelines following weak economic indicators in Europe and China.
Markit's Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers' index fell to 46.1 in September from 46.3 in August, making a worsening contraction in the region's business activity. China's purchasing managers' index for the service sector fell from 56.3 in August to 53.7 in September, the lowest since November 2010.
Foreign investor sold a net 58.4 billion won worth of local shares, with local institutions offloading a net 169.3 billion won worth of stocks. Retail investors purchased a net 209.5 billion won worth of stocks, but they failed to drive up the key index into positive terrain.
Market watchers said nervousness over the third-quarter earnings season also made it difficult for investors to take aggressive position, noting that foreign selling on the KOSPI200 index futures stemming from worries about corporate earnings tended to lead to bearish market conditions.
Large-cap shares ended mixed. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics edged down 0.1 percent to 1,367,000 won, and top crude oil refiner SK Innovation declined 2.5 percent to 163,500 won. The nation's No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor fell 0.8 percent to 244,500 won, and leading chemical firm LG Chem dipped 0.6 percent to 334, 000 won.
Memory chip giant SK Hynix advanced 2.9 percent to 23,150 won, and top steelmaker POSCO rose 0.4 percent to 367,000 won. The nation's largest life insurer Samsung Life Insurance gained 0.3 percent to 96,400 won.
The local currency finished at 1,113.8 won against the greenback, down 1.3 won from Tuesday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes lost 0.02 percentage point to 2.74 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds fell 0.01 percentage point to 2.81 percent.