South Korean shares ended lower for two days in a row Thursday on lingering worries about the weak Japanese yen that would dent competitiveness of local exporters.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 8. 83 points, or 0.45 percent, to close at 1,958.04. Trading volume stood at 331.85 million shares worth 4.19 trillion won (3.76 billion U.S. dollars).
The Japanese yen's slide to a seven-year low to the U.S. dollar spurred concerns that the yen weakness would maul competitiveness of South Korean exporters, which are competing with Japanese rivals in such industries as auto and IT.
The yen weakness came as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered his cabinet Tuesday to prepare a stimulus package and said he would launch an extra budget next year. Abe dissolved the parliament to call an election and put off a sales-tax increase by 18 months.
The Bank of Japan on Wednesday maintained its expanded asset- buying program as the world's third-largest economy posted a negative growth in the third quarter. Japan's gross domestic product reduced an annualized 1.6 percent during the quarter, missing market expectations of an over 2-percent growth.
Worries about the U.S. economy emerged as the minutes of the U. S. Federal Open Market Committee, a branch of the Federal Reserve, showed concerns among U.S. monetary policy makers over possible deflation in the world's largest economy.
Foreigners raised stock holdings by 163 billion won on optimism over technology companies, but institutional and retail investors sold stocks worth 112.2 billion won and 62.1 billion won each on worries about the weak yen.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics slid 0.7 percent, and top automaker Hyundai Motor declined 2.6 percent. The No. 2 carmaker Kia Motors fell 0.7 percent, and the biggest auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis retreated 1.3 percent. Top wireless carrier SK Telecom sank 2.4 percent, and the largest steelmaker POSCO lost 0. 8 percent.
Samsung SD surged 7.3 percent after the technology services unit of Samsung Group, South Korea's largest conglomerate, was listed on the main bourse last week.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,115.1 won against the greenback, down 8.8 won from Wednesday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. Yields on the liquid three-year treasury notes declined 2.4 basis points to 2.156, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds fell 2.7 basis points to 2.715 percent.