(LEAD) Seoul shares up for 7th day amid U.S. debt ceiling uncertainties

South Korean stocks ended higher Tuesday to extend their winning streak to a seventh session, led by big gains of chemical and steel shares, as investors focused on talks on the United States' debt ceiling to avoid a federal default. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 10.47 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 2,567.55. Trading volume was a bit slim at 568.87 million shares worth 7.32 trillion won (US$5.57 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 429 to 425.

The index opened higher and rose further, but some of the earlier gains were trimmed on heavy selling by individuals to lock in profits.

Institutions bought a net 401.6 billion won worth of shares, while retail and foreign investors sold a net 341.16 billion won and 52.9 billion worth of shares, respectively.

Investors remain cautious about the U.S. debt ceiling issue, as U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said late Monday (local time) that they had productive talks though no agreement has been made.

Eyes are also on the Federal Reserve's next step on interest rates, as St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said another 50 basis-point hike might be required. The comment came just days after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said interest rates may not have to rise as much as expected to quell inflation.

"Uncertainties remain high in the market over the U.S. debt issue and the Federal Reserve's monetary path in the coming months, though investors also look to a recovery in key industry sectors. Some volatility is likely for some time," Kiwoom Securities analyst Han Ji-young said.

In Seoul, batteries and steel shares ended markedly higher to lead the upturn of the index.

Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution surged 2.5 percent to 574,000 won, and LG Chem added 2.71 percent to 719,000 won. Samsung SDI also jumped 1.43 percent to 710,000 won.

No. 1 steelmaker POSCO Holdings climbed 2.17 percent to 377,000 won, and POSCO Future M spiked 3.09 percent to 333,500 won.

But Samsung Electronics shed 0.15 percent to 68,400 won, and chip giant SK hynix lost 0.31 percent to 97,900 won following recent gains.

Major bio shares gathered ground. Samsung Biologics rose 0.64 percent to 792,000 won, and Celltrion soared 0.9 percent to 179,500 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor remained unchanged at 207,500 won, and its affiliate Kia inched down 0.11 percent to 88,700 won.

Major platform operators ended mixed. Internet giant Naver fell 1.4 percent to 212,000 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, grew 0.17 percent to 58,000 won.

The local currency ended at 1,312.7 won against the U.S. dollar, up 5.4 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 5.2 basis points to 3.373 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 6.3 basis points to 3.385 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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