(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom, photo)
SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed slightly lower Thursday, paring earlier gains, as investors cashed in recent gains. The Korean won fell slightly against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dipped 5.24 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 2,232.96. Trading volume was moderate at 629 million shares worth some 7.96 trillion won (US$6.73 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 581 to 258.
The index opened higher, gaining 0.59 percent in the first 15 minutes of trading.
The advance followed overnight gains on Wall Street that came on growing confidence that the economic impact of the new coronavirus outbreak will likely be limited.
"The number of confirmed cases released by Hubei Province today may be interpreted to demonstrate the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus in China," HI Investment & Securities analyst Park Sang-hyun said.
"The COVID-19 is again causing confusion in the financial market but the outlook that the Chinese economy will make a quick recovery from the second quarter still stands," Park added.
So far, South Korea has reported 28 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, unchanged since Tuesday.
Institutions dumped a net 328 billion won while individuals offloaded a net 4 billion won. Foreigners, on the other hand, scooped up a net 277 billion won, ending their three-day selling streak.
Large caps closed mixed.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 0.33 percent to 60,700 won while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix jumped 2 percent to 102,000 won.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor plunged 2.21 percent, with its smaller affiliate Kia Motors slipping 0.96 percent.
The local currency closed at 1,182.80 won to the dollar, down 3.30 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 2.2 basis points to 1.275 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond shed 1.7 basis points to 1.404 percent.