South Korean shares fell for the first time in three sessions on Thursday as concerns over China's manufacturing activities spread after HSBC survey showed factory output may contract in September.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) retreated 17.55 points, or 0.87 percent, to close at 1,990.33. Trading volume stood at 612.53 million shares worth 5.28 trillion won (4.7 billion U.S. dollars).
The KOSPI started lower and stayed in a narrow range in the morning trading, but the index extended its earlier losses throughout the session after the survey on China's manufacturing boosted worries about the world's No.2 economy.
The HSBC's preliminary reading for China's purchasing managers index (PMI) stood at 47.8 in September, staying below the expansion-contraction dividing line of 50 for 11 straight months.
Market watchers said investors' attention will be paid to global economic fundamentals, noting that positive effect from stimulus measures taken by major central banks in the U.S. and Europe were increasing fading.
Institutional investors led the market fall amid growing demand for redemption on stock-type mutual funds. Local institutions sold a net 202.2 billion won worth of stocks.
Foreigners, however, continued buying streak for 10 straight sessions with 161.4 billion won worth of local shares bought. Retail investors purchased a net 53.8 billion won worth of stocks.
Among large-cap shares, losers outnumber gainers. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 2 percent to 1,287,000 won, and leading chemical firm LG Chem slid 3 percent to 327,000 won. The nation's No.1 crude oil refiner SK Innovation dropped 4.3 percent to 167,000 won, and the world's largest shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries slipped 2.8 percent to 257,000 won.
Auto shares ended bearish. Top automaker Hyundai Motor edged down 0.4 percent to 242,000 won, and its affiliate Kia Motors inched down 0.4 percent to 73,000 won. The nation's biggest auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis fell 0.3 percent to 318,000 won.
Top life insurer Samsung Life Insurance dipped 0.5 percent to 96,500 won, but top steelmaker POSCO inched up 0.3 percent to 377, 500 won. Memory chip giant SK Hynix advanced 1.7 percent to 23,900 won, and the nation's No.3 banking group Shinhan Financial Group rose 0.4 percent to 39,350 won.
The local currency finished at 1,123.1 won against the greenback, down 8.3 won from Wednesday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes dropped 0.06 percentage point to 2.82 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds tumbled 0. 07 percentage point to 2.90 percent.