Seoul shares close lower ahead of holiday

South Korean stocks closed lower Thursday as investors sat on the sidelines ahead of the holiday this week while keeping a watchful eye on U.S. inflation trends. The local currency gained against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 9.93 points, or 0.37 percent, to 2,642.36. Trade volume was moderate at 484 million shares worth 12.5 trillion won (US$9.44 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 545 to 341. Institutions were net sellers by offloading 507.3 billion won, while foreigners scooped up a net 175.1 billion won. Individuals bought a net 310 billion won. Seoul shares mostly traded in negative terrain tracking overnight losses on Wall Street, as the latest U.S. economic indicator suggested that inflation in the world's top economy still remains high, providing a fresh clue on the Federal Reserve's policy path. "Investors remained cautious over the U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index, along with the local market's closure for March 1 Independenc e Movement Day," said Han Ji-young, an analyst from Kiwoom Securities. Han noted that the weak performance of tech shares on Wall Street overnight also weighed down on investor sentiment. In Seoul, Samsung Electronics edged up 0.27 percent to 73,400 won after choppy trading, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix shed 1.14 percent to 156,000 won. Samsung SDI slid 1.18 percent to 377,000 won. Pharmaceutical shares closed bearish as well, with Samsung Biologics decreasing 3.37 percent to 774,000 won and Celltrion moving down 5.42 percent to 179,700 won. Naver, which operates the country's top search engine, decreased 4.41 percent to 195,000 won, and Kakao lost 4.14 percent to 53,300 won. Carmakers, on the other hand, closed higher, with Hyundai Motor rising 1.01 percent to 250,500 won and its sister Kia gaining 5.78 percent to 124,500 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis climbed 0.21 percent to 242,500 won. Hanwha Investment and Securities shot up 3.49 percent to 4,450 won following the recent strong gains in cr yptocurrency. The company holds shares in the operator of the country's top crypto market. The local currency ended at 1,331.5 won against the greenback, up 2.1 won from the previous session's close. Source: Yonhap News Agency