South Korean shares made their first decline in four sessions on Thursday as local institutions sold stocks to lock in profits from the recent gain.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOPSI) declined 13.62 points, or 0.71 percent, to close at 1,898.44. Trading volume stood at 396.22 million shares worth 5.18 trillion won (4.74 billion U.S. dollars).
The KOSPI started lower, and stayed in negative terrain throughout the session as institutional investors sold more shares than they bought for the first time in five trading days in a bid to take profits.
The index rose above the 1,900 points at one time in the afternoon trading due to foreign purchases, but it ended in the negative territory as foreign buying volume was relatively small.
Institutional investors dumped a net 355.8 billion won worth of stocks after buying shares in the past four sessions on views that the local stock market was undervalued. Foreign and retail investors purchased stocks worth 183.8 billion won and 161.3 billion won respectively, but they failed to drive the market into the positive terrain.
Among large-cap shares, gainers outnumbered decliners. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 1.3 percent to 1,293,000 won, and the world's largest shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries plunged 4.6 percent to 218,500 won.
Auto shares lost ground. Top automaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 4. 9 percent to 213,500 won on rumors that the automaker may announce a massive recall for cars sold in the U.S. The No.2 carmaker Kit Motors fell 0.8 percent to 60,100 won, and the nation's largest auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis ended in negative territory.
The local currency finished at 1,092.3 won against the greenback, down 1.6 won from Wednesday's close.
Bond prices ended mixed. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes closed unchanged at 2.77 percent, but the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds lost 0.01 percentage point to 2.83 percent.