South Korean shares fell on Monday as investors were burdened with the previous session's rapid rally where the local stock market surged around 3 percent due to the announcement of a new mortgage bond purchase program by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 5. 23 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 2,002.35. Trading volume stood at 871.25 million shares worth 6.5 trillion won (5.83 billion U.S. dollars).
The KOSPI stayed in a narrow box range all the trading day as investors were reluctant to take aggressive position following the rapid rally stemming from the launch of the Fed's new round of quantitative easing.
At the September monetary policy meeting, the U.S. central bank decided to spend 40 billion U.S. dollars a month purchasing mortgage-backed securities until the labor market recovers substantially, the first time the Fed has tied a stimulus program to an economic outcome.
The Fed also decided to keep its ultra-low federal funds rate unchanged at least through mid-2015 and continue its so-called Operating Twist program to the end of this year, showing its determination to support job markets and economic recovery.
Foreigners kept their buying streak for seven straight sessions by purchasing a net 502.9 billion won worth of local stocks, but local institutions burdened with the short-term rally sold a net 423.4 billion won worth of shares. Retail investors were net sellers worth a net 75.1 billion won worth of stocks.
"Individuals redeemed much money from stock-type fund accounts, leading to selling by institutional investors. The KOSPI made correction during the trading, but trimmed its earlier losses due to continued foreign buying," Park So-yeon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities in Seoul, told Xinhua.
Park noted that investors seemed to maintain their bet on risk- on mode arising from monetary easing by central banks in the U.S. and Europe, saying that the local stock market was not expected to fall sharply in the near future thanks to the policy action by major central banks.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 1.6 percent to 1,315,000 won, leading the market fall. Top steelmaker POSCO retreated 1.2 percent to 375,500 won, and the nation's biggest life insurer Samsung Life Insurance slid 1 percent to 96,900 won.
Among large-cap shares, gainers outnumbered losers, limiting the KOSPI's further decline. Leading chemical firm LG Chem rose 1. 8 percent to 332,000 won, and top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 0. 8 percent to 248,000 won. The world's largest shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries climbed 1.4 percent to 263,500 won, and the nation's No.1 auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis added 0.5 percent to 321,000 won.
Banking shares gained ground. The nation's No.3 banking group Shinhan Financial Group advanced 3.2 percent to 38,650 won, and KB Financial Group, the parent company of top lender Kookmin Bank, gained 1.7 percent to 41,200 won.
The local currency finished at 1,116.0 won against the greenback, up 1.2 won from Friday's close.
Bond prices ended lower. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes jumped 0.04 percentage point to 2.90 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds climbed 0. 04 percentage point to 2.97 percent.