[SEOUL] South Korean shares fell on Thursday as the Federal Reserve rekindled expectations for a US interest rate hike in December, surrendering early gains which were sparked Samsung Electronics' plans to buy back shares.
The main Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.4 per cent at 2,035.11 points as of 0242 GMT. It reached as high as 2,064.72 shortly after markets opened, its highest since July 23 this year.
In the currency market, the South Korean won dropped after the Fed implied it may hike rates in the next meeting in December, bolstering the greenback and other safe-haven assets.
The won fell 1.1 per cent at 1,143.2 per dollar, set to mark its worst daily loss since Aug. 11.
The KOSPI had firmed initially after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced plans to buy back and cancel 11.3 trillion won (S$13.9 billion) worth of its own shares over the next year to boost shareholder value.
"Samsung's plans proved attractive to investors at a time when recent profits by the company were weaker than expected and there were doubts over their handset supply capabilities," said Kim Hyung Ryeol, a stock analyst at Kyobo Securities.
Thanks to Samsung, tech shares outperformed the broader market, up 1.1 percent near midday. Samsung Elec shares were up 1.8 per cent, and LG Display Co Ltd gained 2.6 per cent.
Shares in Naver Corp, South Korea's top web search operator, were up 2.1 per cent as Naver announced plans to buy back 185.9 billion won worth of its own shares by January 28, 2016 to stabilise its stock price and increase shareholder value.
Offshore investors net purchased 54.4 billion Korean won worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session.
December futures on three-year treasury bonds were down 0.05 points at 109.67.