KOSPI Rises as Foreign Investors Buy Up South Korean SharesSeoul Stocks Surge on Technology and Auto Sector Strengthbhc Chicken Criticized for Price Hikes Amid Ingredient Switch to Cheaper Brazilian ChickenSouth Korean Bond Yields Show Mixed Movements

SEOUL — South Korean stocks saw a notable increase Monday morning, with the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) up by 0.76 percent, driven by foreign investment in large-cap shares.

According to Yonhap News Agency, by 11:20 a.m., the KOSPI had risen by 20.09 points, reaching 2,668.85. The uptick was led by significant gains in the technology sector, with chipmakers like Samsung Electronics and SK hynix witnessing rises of 0.96 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

Other major companies also experienced growth, with SK Telecom and KT seeing increases of 1.15 percent and 5.2 percent. Retail giants Shinsegae and Hyundai Department Store reported gains of 0.98 percent and 1.82 percent, contributing to the positive market sentiment.

However, the battery sector faced some challenges, with LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI experiencing declines of 2.68 percent and 1.85 percent, respectively.

The South Korean won also saw a slight appreciation against the U.S. dollar, trading at 1,333.05 won, up by 2.35 won from the previous session's close.

SEOUL — The Seoul stock market saw a robust opening on Monday, buoyed by significant gains in the technology and automobile sectors. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) experienced an uptick of 26.98 points, or 1.02 percent, reaching 2,675.74 within the first 15 minutes of trading.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Samsung Electronics, a leading technology firm, saw its shares increase by 0.82 percent, while SK hynix, another major chipmaker, witnessed a slight rise of 0.07 percent. The automobile sector also showed strong performance, with Kia, the country's second-largest car manufacturer, recording a 1.73 percent increase in its shares. Hyundai Mobis, an auto parts affiliate of Kia, saw a more substantial jump of 3.25 percent. Additionally, SK Innovations, the top oil refiner, and Korean Zinc, a leading zinc smelter, experienced gains of 1.97 percent and 0.32 percent, respectively.

The South Korean won also strengthened against the U.S. dollar, trading at 1,332.05 won, up by 3.35 won from the previous session's close.

SEOUL — bhc chicken, a prominent fried chicken franchise in South Korea, has come under scrutiny for increasing the prices of its menu items while substituting its chicken ingredients with cheaper alternatives from Brazil. The change, criticized by a consumer advocacy group on Monday, has sparked a debate over pricing practices in the food industry.

According to Yonhap News Agency, bhc had traditionally used domestically produced chicken but switched to Brazilian chicken last May due to supply difficulties. Despite the cost of Brazilian chicken being more than 50 percent lower than that of Korean chicken, bhc raised the prices of 85 menu items, including seven fried boneless chicken options, by 500 won (approximately US$0.38) to 3,000 won in December, citing increased costs for ingredients, payroll, and rent.

The decision to raise prices while shifting to a less expensive ingredient has drawn criticism, especially as other domestic fried chicken franchises using Brazilian chicken did not adjust their prices. An official from the consumer advocacy group highlighted bhc's higher operating profit-to-sales ratio in 2021 and 2022, questioning the justification for the price increase.

In response to the controversy, a bhc chicken official stated that the company plans to revert to using Korean chicken after the current contract with its Brazilian supplier concludes. bhc chicken is operated by Asian private equity fund MBK Partners, adding another layer to the ongoing discussion about corporate responsibility and consumer pricing in South Korea's competitive food industry.

SEOUL — The South Korean bond market experienced slight fluctuations on February 19, 2024, with mixed movements observed across various maturities. Treasury bonds (TBs) and monetary stabilization bonds (MSBs) saw changes in their yields, reflecting a nuanced market sentiment.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the yield on the 1-year Treasury Bond marginally increased by 0.1 basis points, closing at 3.450 percent, up from the previous session's 3.449 percent. Conversely, the 2-year TB yield decreased by 1.2 basis points to 3.453 percent, down from 3.465 percent. Similarly, yields on the 3-year TB fell by 0.8 basis points to 3.397 percent, and the 10-year TB saw a reduction of 1.5 basis points, ending the day at 3.467 percent.

The 2-year Monetary Stabilization Bond also experienced a decrease in yield by 1.0 basis points, settling at 3.445 percent. The 3-year Corporate Bond, rated AA-, recorded a yield drop of 1.3 basis points, ending at 4.102 percent. Meanwhile, the 91-day Certificate of Deposit saw an increase in yield by 1.0 basis point, reaching 3.690 percent.

These movements in bond yields indicate a cautious approach by investors, with a blend of slight increases and decreases across different maturities.

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