|The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) figures are displayed at a dealing room of a local bank in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap)|
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 53.86 points, or 1.82 percent, to close at 2,908.31 points, the lowest finish since Dec. 30 last year.
Trading volume was moderate at about 887.63 million shares worth some 15.4 trillion won ($13 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 780 to 118.
Foreigners sold a net 278.7 billion won, while retail investors bought a net 176.8 billion won. Institutions purchased a net 84.2 billion won.
Local stocks got off to an upbeat start tracking overnight Wall Street gains before turning lower as investor sentiment worsened after New Zealand's central bank raised interest rates for the first time in seven years.
"While the hike was expected, recently worsened investor sentiment reacted sensitively to bad news," Park Kwang-nam, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities, said. "As economic momentum slows down and expectations of improved corporate earnings decrease, investors continue to prefer safer assets."
Investor concerns have grown after Chinese property developer Fantasia Holdings Group Co. failed to repay some of its debt earlier this week amid the ongoing default crisis of another leading Chinese developer, Evergrande Group.
The lack of progress in talks between US lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default before the Oct. 18 deadline also added to investor worries.
Most large caps closed lower in Seoul.
Top cap Samsung Electronics declined 1.25 percent to 71,300 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix fell 1.43 percent to 96,500 won.
Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics tumbled 2.59 percent to 791,000 won, and Celltrion skid 2.75 percent to 212,000 won.
Leading chemical firm LG Chem moved down 0.54 percent to 743,000 won, while top automaker Hyundai Motor edged up 0.26 percent to 194,000 won.
Internet portal operator Naver added 0.67 percent to 373,000 won, and online messaging giant Kakao gained 1.8 percent to 113,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,192.3 won against the US dollar, down 3.6 won from the previous session's close and the lowest closing since Aug. 4 last year when it reached 1,194.1 won against the greenback. (Yonhap)