South Korean shares fell for the first time in 7 sessions on Thursday amid concern that the U.S. Federal Reserve may scale back its economic stimulus.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dipped 0.47 percent to close at 2,015.22 after rising by the most this year. Trading volume was 386.2 million shares worth 3.96 trillion won (3.65 billion U.S. dollars).
U.S. Fed officials expressed concerns over potential costs and risks arising from further asset purchases, according to the minutes of the January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. They mentioned the prospect of inflationary risks and the damaging of financial stability.
Since the onset of the financial crisis, the Fed has launched three rounds of quantitative easing (QE) programs, known as QE1, QE2 and QE3 and has thus far completed the first two rounds of asset purchases. With the QE1 and QE2, the Fed has bought more than 2 trillion dollars of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities, expanding its balance sheet to around 2.9 trillion dollars.
Electronics and auto shares, the country's major exporters, gained ground after the Japanese yen renewed its gain against the dollar. Samsung Electronics, the world's No.1 tech company by sales, rose 0.3 percent, and the world's second-biggest memory chip maker SK Hynix increased 0.4 percent. Consumer electronics giant LG Electronics rose 1.4 percent, and the country's top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis climbed 0.6 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor fell 0.5 percent, but its affiliate Kia Motors advanced 0.7 percent.
Other large-cap shares ended bearish. Leading chemical firm LG Chem declined 0.8 percent, and top steelmaker POSCO slid 1.8 percent. The nation's biggest life insurer Samsung Life Insurance retreated 1.9 percent and top crude oil refiner SK Innovation fell 1.4 percent.
The local currency finished at 1,086.2 won against the greenback, down 7.7 won from Wednesday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes lost 0.03 percentage point to 2.68 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds fell 0.03 percentage point to 2.79 percent.