South Korean shares fell on Tuesday as investors took to the sidelines ahead of Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke's testimony to the U.S. Congress slated for Wednesday and Thursday.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 8. 8 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 1,866.36. Trading volume stood at 300.37 million shares worth 2.95 trillion won (2.64 billion U.S. dollars).
Investors showed reluctance to take aggressive positions in the market as Bernanke was scheduled to talk about monetary policy direction for the second half at the two-day testimony to the U.S. Congress.
Bernanke tried to quell jitters last week by saying that highly accommodative monetary policy for the foreseeable future would be necessary for the U.S. economy, but concerns lingered over an early exit of the Fed's bond purchasing program.
Foreign investors kept their buying streak for the fourth consecutive session, but their stock buying stood merely at 18.5 billion won. Retail investors bought stocks worth 69.4 billion won, but institutional investors sold shares worth 91.1 billion won.
Most large-cap shares ended in negative territory. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 1.1 percent, the first decline in six trading days. The nation's biggest auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis retreated 0.6 percent and, the country's No.2 carmaker Kia Motors slid 1.2 percent.
The world's largest shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries dipped 1 percent, and the state-run power provider Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) fell 1.4 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor edged up 0.2 percent.
The local currency finished at 1,118.0 won against the greenback, up 4.0 won from Monday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes fell 0.01 percentage point to 2.88 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds lost 0.01 percentage point to 3.44 percent.