Seoul shares down late Thu. morning amid U.S. debt ceiling woes

South Korean stocks turned lower late Thursday morning on lingering uncertainties over the United States' debt ceiling negotiations despite sharp gains of major chipmakers.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index had shed 8.61 points, or 0.34 percent, to 2,558.84 as of 11:20 a.m.

The index opened slightly higher and moved within a tight range before falling to negative territory on institutional selling.

Investors remain wary of negotiations on the U.S. debt ceiling as little progress has been made eight days away from the June 1 deadline to avoid a federal default. The concerns caused the U.S. shares to tumble overnight.

Investors also watched the news that the Bank of Korea held interest rates steady at 3.5 percent as widely expected Thursday and cut this year's growth estimate amid a global economic slowdown.

Major chipmakers traded higher to cap the fall of the index.

Samsung Electronics rose 1.02 percent and SK hynix spiked 5.12 percent, as U.S. chip giant Nvidia shares rose by about 25 percent in after-hours trading on a report that booming demand for artificial intelligence processors would fuel revenue growth.

But leading battery maker LG Energy Solution lost 1.2 percent, and LG Chem shed 0.83 percent. Samsung SDI also sank 1.82 percent on profit-taking.

Carmakers fell, with No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor decreasing 1.45 percent and its affiliate Kia sinking 1.8 percent.

Major bio firm Samsung Biologics shed 0.88 percent, and Celltrion dived 2.68 percent.

Platform operators traded mixed, with internet giant Naver growing 0.74 percent following recent sharp losses, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, inching down 0.18 percent.

The local currency was changing hands at 1,324.80 won against the greenback at 11:20 a.m., down 7.4 won from the previous session's close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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