[SEOUL] South Korean shares were trading slightly lower on Tuesday morning after a choppy session as investors waited on the sidelines ahead of the US Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.2 per cent at 1,928.10 points as of 0155 GMT.
Data indicating a slowdown in the US services sector, which dipped to a six-month low in October, as well as weak German business sentiment also put downward pressure on equities.
The Fed is expected to announce the end of its quantitative easing program when its meeting concludes, but analysts say it is a foregone conclusion and don't expect markets to react significantly.
"We believe stocks will rally, having already priced in concerns in September and October... and while liquidity was almost the only concern after QE1 and QE2, economic conditions and earnings are now also being considered," said Samsung Securities in a note to clients.
"With other nations turning to stimulus, global liquidity levels should remain solid even after QE3 finishes." Oil refiners were battered as crude prices plumbed fresh two-year lows, with Goldman Sachs cutting its price target of West Texas Intermediate from US$94.83 per barrel this year to US$73.75 in 2015.
SK Innovation, South Korea's largest refiner, fell 2.1 per cent while S-Oil tumbled 3.3 percent.
Defensive sectors such as telecoms bucked broader trends, as SK Telecom, South Korea's largest mobile services provider, rose 2.4 per cent while KT Corp gained 2.4 per cent.
Samsung Life Insurance shares were trading 1.4 per cent higher while Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance added 1.9 per cent after Samsung Group said its conglomerate heir-apparent Jay Y Lee was looking to acquire a stake in the two insurance arms.
The South Korean won was a shade higher on Tuesday as investors, braced for more dovish comments from the Federal Reserve, turned bearish on the dollar.
The currency was quoted at 1,050.7 to the dollar as of 0155 GMT, compared to Monday's closing rate of 1,052.2.
December futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 3 basis points to trade at 108.83.