[SEOUL] Seoul shares fell on Monday morning as foreign selling erased brief gains at the open, with investors adopting a cautious stance ahead the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate-setting meeting later the week.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.5 per cent at 1,931.06 points as of 0218 GMT after rising as much as 0.3 per cent. Losers outnumbered winners by 17 to 10.
Analysts said trading was tentative as investors waited to see whether the Fed will deliver its first interest rate increase in almost a decade at its meeting this week.
Lee Jae-hoon, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities, said that "uncertainty of the Fed's rate decision," following a keenly anticipated meeting on Sept 16-17 is keeping investors on edge.
Persistent foreign selling in domestic equities - on track for the 28th consecutive day of net sales - dragged down the main board. In the last 27 days, they offloaded 5.37 trillion won (S$6.41 billion) of KOSPI shares.
Market bellwether Hyundai Motor Co Ltd shed 1.3 per cent, and Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd lost 1.2 per cent.
E-Mart Co Ltd tumbled 4.2 per cent after announcing late on Friday its sales in August fell 6.1 per cent from the same period in 2014.
On the local currency market, the South Korean won gained against the dollar as offshore traders adjusted positions ahead of the Fed meeting.
The South Korean won was up 0.3 per cent at 1,180.8 per dollar after touching a morning high of 1,177.4, the strongest since Sept 2.
September futures on three-year treasury bonds were down 0.03 points at 109.61.