1st LD Writethru: S. Korean stocks edge down on foreign sale

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SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korean stocks ended in negative territory on Tuesday as foreign investors remained net sellers in the local stock market for five straight trading days.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 9.66 points, or 0.31 percent, to settle at 3,070.09. Trading volume stood at 2.2 billion shares worth 17.3 trillion won (15.6 billion U.S. dollars).

The KOSPI started 0.34 percent lower and extended losses to touch 3,035 points in the morning session.

The index trimmed earlier losses and turned upward in the afternoon session as both retail and institutional investors purchased stocks worth 78.8 billion won (70.9 million U.S. dollars) and 300.4 billion won (270.4 million U.S. dollars) respectively.

The main index, however, turned downward again about half an hour before the market close amid the foreign sale of domestic stocks that amounted to 374.3 billion won (336.9 million U.S. dollars).

The foreign sale came as the recent spike in U.S. government bond yields led to Wall Street losses overnight, market watchers said.

Among large-cap shares, decliners outnumbered gainers. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics dipped 0.2 percent, and leading chemical firm LG Chem declined 3.4 percent. Rechargeable battery producer Samsung SDI diminished 3.9 percent, and Samsung BioLogics, a pharmaceutical unit of Samsung Group, retreated 2.6 percent.

Memory chip giant SK hynix gained 1.45 percent, and the biggest carmaker Hyundai Motor advanced 1.2 percent.

The small-cap KOSDAQ slipped 17.69 points, or 1.85 percent, to close at 936.60.

The local currency finished at 1,110.6 won versus the greenback, down 0.2 won from the previous close. Enditem

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