SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks retreated Monday after choppy trading as rising bond yields continued to stoke concerns of earlier-than-expected post-pandemic inflation. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 8.68 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 3,045.71 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 1.1 billion shares worth some 12.4 trillion won (US$10.9 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 564 to 293.

Foreigners sold a net 210 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 524 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 316 billion won.

Stocks traded choppy in a tight 3,036-3,065 band ahead of the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, as investors raised hopes for a slowdown in bond yields. The FOMC meeting is to be held Tuesday and Wednesday (U.S. time).

 “Investors are in their wait-and-see mode before the FOMC,” said DS Investment & Securities researcher Na Jung-hwan.

 “They are not expecting a major policy intervention from the Fed, but may interpret (the Fed’s) forecast or change of data as a tapering signal,” he said.

Auto and steel performed well in Seoul, while techs slumped.

Top cap Samsung Electronics lost 1.21 percent to 81,800 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix moved down 2.5 percent to 136,500 won.

Giant internet portal operator Naver gained 0.66 percent to 383,000 won, but its rival Kakao retreated 0.42 percent to 479,000 won.

Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics declined 1.08 percent to 735,000 won, and Celltrion shed 2.69 percent to 289,000 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor decreased 0.22 percent to 232,000 won, while its smaller affiliate Kia jumped 3.62 percent to 85,800 won. Leading chemical firm LG Chem advanced 2.33 percent to 966,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,136.3 won against the U.S. dollar, down 2.5 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1.5 basis points to 1.238 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 2.5 basis points to 1.621 percent.