SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- South Korean shares fell to the lowest level in around four months as foreign investors rushed to sell local stocks amid negative recommendations from a foreign investment bank.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 7. 57 points, or 0.39 percent, to close at 1,938.54. The figure was the lowest since late August last year. Trading volume stood at 254.22 million shares worth 4.21 trillion won (3.96 billion U.S. dollars).
After taking off a strong start, the KOSPI turned into negative territory after foreigners became net sellers in five sessions by offloading a net 249.1 billion won worth of shares.
HSBC downgraded its recommendations on the local stock market to "neutral" from "buy,"worsening sentiment among foreigners.
Institutional and retail investors bought stocks worth 50.2 billion won and 178 billion won respectively, but the purchases failed to bolster the stock market.
Shipbuilders lost ground on the back of growing concerns over the sour earnings. The world's biggest shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries dropped 4.6 percent, and its rival Samsung Heavy Industries plunged 5.7 percent.
Most sectors that make up the KOSPI ended in negative terrain, with banks and insurance falling 1.2 percent and 1 percent each. Telecommunication companies declined 1.6 percent, and transportation and financial sectors lost 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
The nation's No.3 banking group Shinhan Financial Group slid 2. 5 percent, and KB Financial Group retreated 2.5 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor lost 1.6 percent, and its affiliate Kia Motors fell 1.5 percent.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,061.4 won against the greenback, up 1.5 won from Thursday's close.
Bond prices ended mixed. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes rose 0.02 percentage point to 2.91 percent, but the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds fell 0.02 percentage point to 3.65 percent.