SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks finished lower Wednesday on selling by foreigners and institutions amid rising uncertainties ahead of the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 19.67 points, or 0.64 percent, to close at 3,047.5 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 803 million shares worth some 13.2 trillion won (US$11.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 430 to 409.

Foreigners sold a net 526 billion won and institutions offloaded a net 534 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 1.1 trillion won.

Electronic signboards at a Hana Bank dealing room in Seoul show the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 3,047.5 on March 17, 2021, down 19.67 points, or 0.64 percent, from the previous session’s close. (Yonhap)

The KOSPI got off to a lackluster start as investors continued to wonder if the Federal Reserve would step up to soothe market concerns of earlier-than-expected post-pandemic inflation.

The stock index touched the lowest point of 3,027.2 in the afternoon but trimmed losses toward the session’s end.

 “The mixed overnight performance on Wall Street increased the sell-offs a day before the FOMC meeting, adding downward pressure on the local stock prices,” said Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young.

 “The slight hike in the U.S. Treasury yields also seems to have raised the foreign and institutional selling of local stocks,” he said.

The FOMC meeting results are expected to be revealed early Thursday morning, before the trading opens.

Most large caps closed lower in Seoul.

Top cap Samsung Electronics lost 0.6 percent to 82,300 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix shed 0.36 percent to 140,000 won.

 Giant internet portal operator Naver fell 0.52 percent to 383,500 won, while its rival Kakao advanced 1.25 percent to 485,000 won.

Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics declined 1.91 percent to 719,000 won, with Celltrion moving down 1.01 percent to 293,500 won.

 Leading chemical firm LG Chem moved down 3.82 percent to 857,000 won, and top automaker Hyundai Motor decreased 0.85 percent to 232,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,130.2 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.5 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys closed unchanged at 1.177 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 3.7 basis points to 1.639 percent.