South Korean stocks fell to a six-month low Wednesday on a sharp decline in big-cap tech shares amid growing concerns the Federal Reserve will keep its rates higher for longer. The local currency fell against the US dollar to hit an 11-month low.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index slid 59.38 points, or 2.41 percent, to close at 2,405.69, the lowest since March.
The secondary KOSDAQ plunged 4 percent.
The Kospi's trading volume was moderate at 417.16 million shares worth 9.88 trillion won ($7.25 billion), with losers far outpacing gainers 831 to 76.
Foreigners and institutions dumped a net 399.3 billion won and 467.3 billion won worth of shares, respectively, while retail investors bought a net 833.3 billion won worth of shares.
The indexes plunged as concerns grew over the Fed's monetary tightening policy direction following a six-day close of the stock markets during the extended fall harvest holiday that ran through the previous day.
Overnight, US shares ended markedly lower as the 10-year treasury yield shot up to above 4.8 percent after an increase in available job openings in August strengthened market speculation the Fed will keep its rate "higher for longer" and go for another rate hike later this year.
Concerns also grew after Fed Gov. Michelle Bowman said in a speech earlier this week that she expects it will likely "raise rates further and hold them at a restrictive level for some time."
"During the holiday, Fed officials made hawkish comments, driving up the US 10-year treasury yield to 4.8 percent level. This increased the pressure on the local stock market," Han Ji-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co., said.
Most top-cap tech shares ended in negative terrain on the Seoul bourse.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 1.32 percent to 67,500 won, leading battery maker LG Energy Solution plunged 4.3 percent to 456,000 won, and Samsung SDI tumbled 5.37 percent to 484,500 won.
Posco and its affiliates were also weak, with steel giant Posco Holdings down 4.49 percent to 511,000 won and its battery component making affiliate Posco Future M down 6.54 percent to 336,000 won.
Other tech stocks also lost ground.
Internet portal operator Naver shot down 5.11 percent to 191,200 won, and Kakao, the operator of the country's top mobile messenger, lost 5.35 percent to 41,600 won.
Battery makers and chemicals sharply lost ground.
Leading chemical producer LG Chem slid 2.11 percent to 486,000 won, and major oil refinery SK Innovation retreated more than 5.1 percent to 141,100 won.
K-pop powerhouse Hybe also dropped more than 6.5 percent to 222,500 won.
Chip giant SK hynix was among the few gainers, adding 0.61 percent to 115,400 won.
Auto shares were mixed.
Hyundai Motor was down 0.16 percent to 190,800 won, while its affiliate Kia was up 0.61 percent to 81,900 won.
The local currency ended at 1,363.50 won against the greenback, the lowest level since November last year, down 14.2 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed sharply lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 22.4 basis points to 4.108 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds climbed 26.1 basis points to 4.203 percent. (Yonhap)
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