South Korean shares fell below the psychologically important level of 2,000 points Wednesday as short- term volatility in the foreign exchange market destabilized investor sentiment.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) sank 28. 55 points, or 1.41 percent, to close at 1,991.54. Trading volume stood at 347.82 million shares worth 4.29 trillion won (4.04 billion U.S. dollars).
The won/dollar exchange rate surged on expectations that Bank of Korea (BOK) would cut rates further as early as in October amid the expected rate increase from the U.S. Federal Reserve possible in the second half of next year.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,055.2 won against the greenback, down 7.5 won from Tuesday's close.
The won's depreciation to the dollar usually acts as a positive factor to boost the stock market as it means robust price competitiveness of local exporters in global markets.
However, the abrupt change in the won/dollar exchange rate reflected worries about an increasing volatility in the financial market coming from different monetary policies between the United States and South Korea.
Concerns remained about sluggish third-quarter earnings, especially among electronics firms and automakers, the two main pillars of the South Korea's export-driven economy.
Foreign investors dumped stocks worth 206.2 billion won. Institutional investors, who sold shares earlier, turned into net buyers to hunt bargains by purchasing shares worth 45.9 billion. Retail investors bought a net 143 billion won worth of stocks.
Most large-cap shares lost ground. Top steelmaker POSCO tumbled 3.4 percent, and market bellwether Samsung Electronics slid 2.4 percent. Hyundai Mobis, LG Chem and KB Financial Group also declined more than 2 percent.
The biggest mobile operator SK Telecom jumped 2.4 percent on positive change in regulations, and the second-largest carmaker Kia Motors and the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) rose more than 1 percent.
Bond prices ended higher. Yields on the liquid three-year treasury notes plunged 6.2 basis points to 2.235 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds lost 4.4 basis points to 2.810 percent.