SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks traded slightly lower late Wednesday morning as investors took to the sidelines ahead of the U.S. rate decision slated for this week.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index declined 3.51 points, or 0.14 percent, to 2,555.70 at around 11:20 a.m.
Investors are awaiting the Federal Reserve's rate announcement on Wednesday (U.S. time), which is expected to keep key interest rates unchanged.
But the market speculates the U.S. central bank may deliver one more rate hike this year as higher energy costs will likely heat up inflation and weigh down the economic growth.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 0.29 percent, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix dropped 1.17 percent.
Auto shares, on the other hand, traded bullish.
Top carmaker Hyundai Motor jumped 2.58 percent and its smaller affiliate Kia rose 2.27 percent. Hyundai's auto parts-making affiliate Hyundai Mobis gained 2.53 percent.
IT and bio stocks traded in negative terrain.
Internet portal operator Naver dropped 0.68 percent, and Kakao, the operator of the country's top mobile messenger, fell 0.73 percent.
Samsung Biologics and Celltrion both fell 0.69 percent.
Steel giant POSCO Holdings also lost 0.67 percent, leading chemical producer LG Chem retreated 0.54 percent, and home appliances maker