(LEAD) Seoul shares close nearly flat ahead of Fed minutes

South Korean stocks ended nearly flat Wednesday as investors sat on the sidelines ahead of the release of the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee's meeting minutes. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index edged down 0.72 points, or 0.03 percent, to close at 2,723.46. Trade volume was moderate at 476 million shares worth 12.1 trillion won (US$8.92 billion), with losers beating winners 474 to 402. Foreigners bought a net 296 billion won worth of local shares, while individuals offloaded a net 261 billion won. Institutions sold a net 32.1 billion won. Analysts said Seoul shares closed nearly flat as investors awaited clues over the future path of the U.S. key rates from the upcoming minutes. "As investors cautiously wait for the earnings report of Nvidia as well as the FOMC minutes, the overall rebound momentum of the South Korean stock market was limited," said Han Ji-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities. Tech shares closed mixed, with Samsung Electronics falling 0.89 percent to 77,700 won while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 2.97 percent to 197.700 won. Financial firms finished lower, with KB Financial falling 3.06 percent to 79,100 won and Shinhan Financial losing 2.15 percent to 47,850 won. Carmakers closed higher, with Hyundai Motors jumping 9.49 percent to 277,000 won and its sister Kia rising 3.93 percent to 118,900 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis added 2.91 percent to 230,000 won. Foodstuff makers closed bullish as well, with CJ Cheiljedang rising 4.42 percent to 354,000 won. The local currency ended at 1,362.9 won against the greenback, up 0.4 won from the previous session's close. Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 0.2 basis point to 3.409 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds declined 0.5 basis point to 3.436 percent. Source: Yonhap News Agency