SEOUL, March 18 (Xinhua) -- South Korean shares fell on Monday as foreign funds flowed out of the stock market amid concern the proposed levy on bank deposits in Cyprus would lead Europe into crisis.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 18.32 points, or 0.92 percent, to close at 1,968.18, the lowest in about five weeks. Trading volume stood at 300.83 million shares worth 3.91 trillion won (3.51 billion U.S. dollars).
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades appealed to lawmakers on Sunday to pass the legislation imposing a one-off levy on deposits in Cypriot banks in return for international aid. Euro-area finance ministers demanded to raise 5.8 billion euros (7.5 billion U.S. dollars) by imposing a levy of 6.75 percent on all deposits in Cypriot banks below 100,000 euros and of 9.9 percent on sums above this mark.
Foreign funds reduced their holdings of stocks by 1.1 trillion won over the past three sessions. Retail investors and local institutions bought shares worth 204.5 billion won and 157.8 billion won each, relieving selling pressure from foreigners.
Most industry groups ended bearish. Samsung Electronics declined 2.4 percent after foreigners offloaded the most valuable stock in the main bourse. Top automaker Hyundai Motor fell 0.5 percent amid renewed risk-off mode, and its affiliate Kia Motors slid 0.4 percent.
The nation's largest steelmaker POSCO dipped 0.9 percent, and most large-cap shares such as SK Hynix, LG Chem and SK Innovation all ended in negative territory.
The local currency finished at 1,114.6 won against the greenback, down 4.3 won from Friday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes fell 0.02 percentage point to 2.59 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds lost 0.03 percentage point to 2.68 percent.