SEOUL, May 21 (Xinhua) -- South Korean shares ended in negative territory for two straight days Wednesday as local financial institutions sold off stocks on strong demand from stock-type fund clients for cash holdings after the main index touched this year' s high.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 2. 93 points, or 0.15 percent, to close at 2,008.33. Trading volume stood at 218.9 million shares worth 3.2 trillion won (3.1 billion U.S. dollars).
After breaching this year's high for the second consecutive session, the KOSPI declined for two days in a row as institutional investors sold off stocks as clients called for cashing in on their stock-type funds.
Local institutions remained as net sellers for the fifth straight session by offloading a net 115 billion won worth of stocks. Retail investors sold shares worth 7 billion won.
Wall Street losses overnight also contributed to setting off expectations among stock fund clients for the future decline of the local stock market.
Foreign investors, however, raised their holdings of local stocks by 159.5 billion won, limiting the KOSPI's further fall. The index showed a range-bound trading, bobbing in and out of the negative terrain.
Investors turned bearish on Samsung Group shares after news that Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, the de factor owner of the group, was moved to the general ward.
Samsung shares outperformed the market recently as Lee was hospitalized on May 9 for a myocardial infarction after receiving a cardiopulmonary resuscitation, boosting expectations that the transition of the group's ownership will speed up.
The health problem and old age of Lee, 72, triggered expectations for the ownership transfer, but the speculation eased as Lee was moved to the general ward from an emergency room.
Samsung Life Insurance, which is expected to control financial affiliates, sank more than 3 percent, and Samsung Electronics, Samsung C&T and Samsung Engineering ended bearish. Top web search engine NAVER gained over 2 percent, keeping its upward trend for two straight days, and the country's second-biggest carmaker Kia Motors rose 1.7 percent.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,026.9 won against the greenback, down 1.6 won from Tuesday's close.
Bond prices ended flat. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes closed unchanged at 2.84 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds finished steady at 3.07 percent.