South Korean shares fell for the first time in five sessions on Monday as concerns over the devaluation of the Japanese yen continued to weigh down on market sentiment.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 4. 38 points, or 0.22 percent, to close at 1,982.43. Trading volume stood at 270 million shares worth 4.32 trillion won (3.87 billion U.S. dollars).
The KOSPI took a strong start after U.S. stocks kept its record- breaking trend on the back of improved sentiment among consumers.
Institutional investors sold shares worth 142.1 billion won amid concerns over the negative impact of the weak yen trend on local exporters. Market watchers expected the weak yen to start to influence negatively the South Korean exports from the second quarter of this year.
Geopolitical risks escalated after a series of missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), but it had only limited impact on the local financial market. Foreign investors purchased shares worth 89.5 billion won, and retail investors scooped up a net 56 billion won worth of stocks.
The DPRK fired a short-range projectile into the East Sea for the third consecutive day on Monday after launching one on Sunday and three on Saturday in a northeasterly direction over the DPRK waters.
The Ministry of Defense originally said that the missiles were short-range guided ones, but it started to call them projectiles given the possibility that they could be new type of artillery shells.
The defense authorities estimated that the projectiles may be KN-02 surface-to-surface missiles with a range up to 160 kilometers or new type of artillery shells of at least 300 millimeters in caliber.
Large-cap shares ended mixed. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 0.7 percent, and top life insurer Samsung Life Insurance retreated 2.3 percent. The state-run power provider Korea Electric Power Corp. fell 2.6 percent.
The nation's No. 1 carmaker Hyundai Motor rose 1.3 percent, and its affiliate Kia Motors advanced 0.6 percent. Top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis climbed 0.9 percent, and memory chip giant SK Hynix gained 2.2 percent.
The local currency finished at 1,116.8 won against the greenback, down 0.4 won from Thursday's close. The local financial market was closed last Friday for Buddha's birthday.
Bond prices ended lower. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes rose 0.04 percentage point to 2.6 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds added 0.04 percentage point to 2.69 percent.