Seoul shares end lower for 3rd day ahead of Fed meeting

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks ended down for the third straight session Wednesday, as investors awaited a U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting for signals on the speed of its monetary tightening. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 2.89 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 2,677.57.

Trading volume was moderate at about 11.5 billion shares worth some 9.7 trillion won (US$7.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 594 to 272.

Institutions sold a net 149 billion won, while foreign and retail investors bought a net 32 billion won and 96 billion won, respectively.

The market opened higher, buoyed by an overnight Wall Street rise, but it pared earlier gains with the index going through a choppy session throughout the day.

Market participants widely expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates by half a percentage point Wednesday (U.S. time) to tackle high inflation.

The Fed is also expected to outline a plan to shrink its bond holdings, a move also known as quantitative tightening that will make money in the market more expensive.

"Investors will look for a clue on whether there will be any change in the Fed's overall stance on rate hikes and quantitative tightening rather than focusing only on the immediate results of the (Wednesday) meeting," Park Kwang-nam, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities, said.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics rose 0.59 percent to 67,900 won, and internet portal operator Naver closed flat at 282,000 won.

Chipmaker SK hynix shed 0.45 percent to 109,500 won, pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics lost 2.04 percent to close at 815,000 won, and top battery maker LG Energy Solution shed 1.47 percent to 401,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,266.30 won against the U.S. dollar, up 1.5 won from the previous session.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 3.9 basis points to 3.178 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond increased 4.0 basis points to 3.393 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency