South Korean stocks ended lower Monday, led by big-cap tech losses, on mounting concerns over a global banking crisis despite the takeover of the troubled Credit Suisse. The local currency fell against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed 16.49 points, or 0.69 percent, to close at 2,379.2. Trading volume was slim at 339.75 million shares worth 5.97 trillion won ($4.55 billion), with gainers outpacing decliners 446 to 426.
Foreigners shed a net 204.89 billion won worth of shares, while institutional and retail investors sold a net 106.15 billion won and 89.27 billion won worth of shares, respectively.
The index had moved within a tight range before ending markedly lower as investors were worried about the financial soundness of the global financial system following the collapse of US lenders in recent weeks.
On Sunday, Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS, said it has agreed to buy Credit Suisse in an emergency rescue deal engineered by its authorities in the latest efforts by governments around the world to stem the spread of the banking sector turmoil.
Eyes are also on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy path in the runup to the two-day rate-setting meeting set to begin Tuesday.
"Volatility is expected to continue for some time being due to issues in the banking sector, though any drastic fall of the index seems unlikely, as it will take time for investors to assess the impact of the results of the upcoming Fed meeting and major nations' data on the manufacturing sector and exports," Kiwoom Securities analyst Han Ji-young said.
In Seoul, tech blue chips led the downturn of the index.
Samsung Electronics fell 1.79 percent to 60,200 won, and chip giant SK hynix lost 0.36 percent to 83,700 won.
Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution decreased 1.63 percent to 544,000 won, and Samsung SDI slid 0.83 percent to 715,000 won. LG Chem sank 2.71 percent to 683,000 won.
Carmakers ended lower, with top automaker Hyundai Motor dropping 0.85 percent to 175,100 won and its affiliate Kia diving 2.74 percent to 78,000 won.
But bio shares gathered ground. Samsung Biologics rose 0.5 percent to 812,000 won, and Celltrion grew 0.89 percent to 157,900 won.
Internet giant Naver surged 1.77 percent to 201,500 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, advanced 1.33 percent to 61,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,310.1 won against the US dollar, down 7.9 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)