SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished lower Thursday as investors dumped auto and some tech stocks to lock in recent gains, bucking overnight gains in Wall Street. The Korean won sharply rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 9.47 points, or 0.46 percent, to close at 2,071.01. Trade volume was moderate at 818 million shares worth 5.47 trillion won (US$4.77 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 597 to 229.
The local stock market opened a tad higher taking a cue from overnight gains on Wall Street, which was propelled by the Federal Reserve's comments on the world's largest economy.
For the past few sessions, the global stock market has been wobbled by President Donald Trump's policies, including a travel ban.
On Wednesday, the U.S. central bank gave a relatively positive note to the world's leading economy but signaled that it would not be in a hurry to raise the borrowing costs.
The Fed raised the interest rates by a quarter of one percentage point in December and indicated a faster rate hike pace this year.
"The Fed's policy stance is positive for the Korean stock market, as it could stoke foreign buying here and oil prices are expected to continue to rise, which is another positive factor," said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.
But institutional investors went on a selling spree, targeting automakers and some tech stocks, a move seen as basking in recent gains, the analyst said.
Top cap Samsung Electronics ended at 1,968,000 won, up 0.61 percent from the previous session's close.
SK hynix, a major chipmaker, snapped a six-day winning streak, to end at 52,800 won, down 2.22 percent, after hitting a record high of 54,000 won on hopes of improved earnings.
Automakers also remained in negative terrain. Auto industry leader Hyundai Motor fell 2.51 percent to 136,000 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors fell 2.19 percent to 35,700 won.
LG Chem, the country's No. 1 chemicals firm, advanced 0.73 percent to end at 274,500 won.
S-Oil, the No. 3 refiner in the country, gained 0.99 percent to end at 82,000 won on optimism that its refining margin would further improve. The refiner logged a record operating income of 1.69 trillion won last year.
AmorePacific, the country's No. 1 cosmetics maker, sank 4.6 percent to end at 301,000 won as its earnings for 2016 fell short of market expectations.
The local currency closed at 1,146.80 won against the U.S. dollar, up 11.30 won from the previous session's close.
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