Seoul stocks end slightly lower amid lingering inflation woes

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks closed slightly lower on Monday as investors took to the sidelines amid inflation woes and concerns that the Fed may raise rates at a faster and stronger-than-expected pace. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) inched down 2.85 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 2,693.21.

Trading volume was moderate at around 1.1 billion shares worth some 8.9 trillion won (US$7.2 billion), with gainers slightly outnumbering losers 423 to 417.

Foreigners and institutional investors offloaded a net 98.4 billion won and 19.7 billion won, respectively, while retail investors picked up shares worth a net 105.8 billion won.

There were also concerns over a slowdown in China.

On Friday, China's central bank cut the reserve requirement ratio for financial institutions by 0.25 percentage point to buffer a slowdown stemming from virus restrictions.

On Monday, the world's No.2 economy reported that its economy expanded at a slower than expected clip of 4.8 percent in the first quarter.

"Various uncertainties, such as rising U.S. treasury yields, that are reflected by tightening Fed measures have limited the KOSPI's rise," Daeshin Securities analyst Lee Kyung-min said.

Market heavyweights closed mixed.

Among gainers, market bellwether Samsung Electronics inched up 0.15 percent to close at 66,700 won. The tech giant dipped to a 52-week low during the session but managed to close higher.

No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 0.93 percent to close at 109,000 won. Top automaker Hyundai Motor went up 0.85 percent to 178,500, and its smaller affiliate Kia increased 1.96 percent to 78,200 won.

In contrast, key battery maker LG Energy Solution declined 0.46 percent to 433,000 won and leading pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics shed 0.36 percent to 832,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,234.4 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.8 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mostly down. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 4.6 basis points to 2.990 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 6.1 basis points to 3.227 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency