SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks closed a tad lower Thursday, as investors wait for key economic data from the United States later this week, which is widely seen as a gauge for a potential rate hike. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 2.92 points, or 0.09 percent, to close at 3,165.51 points.

Trading volume was high at about 1.1 billion shares worth some 19.9 trillion won (US$17.8 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 496 to 360.

Foreigners sold a net 284 billion won, while retail investors bought 47 billion won. Institutions purchased a net 267 billion won.

The KOSPI got off to a muted start as investor caution grew while waiting for the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) data.

The U.S. Commerce Department is set to release the latest PCE on Friday (U.S. time).

Stock losses deepened as the Bank of Korea raised its growth outlook for 2021 to 4 percent for this year, sharply up from the previously projected 3 percent, and 3 percent in 2022.

The BOK froze the key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent, but investor sentiment weakened over the central bank winding back their low interest rate policy earlier than expected.

The rebalancing of the Morgan Stanley Capital International index also led to a fall in market heavyweights.

In Seoul, market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 0.25 percent to 79,600 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix advanced 0.81 percent.

Internet portal operator Naver decreased 2.34 percent and giant pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics lost 2.03 percent to 125,500 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor declined 1.34 percent to 220,500 won, and leading chemical firm LG Chem dipped 3.49 percent to 803,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,118.1 won against the U.S. dollar, down 1.2 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 3.7 basis points to 1.124 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 3.4 basis points to 1.638 percent.