Seoul shares end almost unchanged on battery sector gains

SEOUL– Seoul stocks ended almost flat Thursday, buoyed by battery share gains after the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting meeting. The local currency lost ground against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) inched down 7.7 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,329.17 at the closing bell.

Trade volume was moderate at 543.5 billion shares worth 9.1 trillion won (US$6.4 billion) with decliners outnumbering gainers 552 to 299.

Foreign and retail investors scooped up a net 562.1 billion won worth of shares, while institutions offloaded a net 585.2 billion won.

“Korean stocks had a weak start after FOMC Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed could push the base rate to a higher-than-expected level,” analyst Lee Kyoung-min from Daeshin Securities said.

“But foreigners shifted to a net buying mode, especially in battery shares, and added upward pressure to the KOSPI.”

ln Seoul, large caps closed lower.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics inched down 0.67 percent to 59,200 won, and rival chipmaker SK hynix dipped 2.13 percent to reach 82,700 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor retreated 1.82 percent to 162,000 won, portal operator Naver slid 2.87 percent to 169,000 won, and bio firm Celltrion lost 1.33 percent to 185,000 won.

Battery shares, in contrast, ended higher. Major battery maker LG Energy Solution advanced 3.51 percent to 589,000 won, while battery materials maker POSCO Chemical jumped 7.07 percent to 212,000 won.

Refiner SK Innovation added 3.27 percent to 189,000 won amid anticipation for its battery-making subsidiary SK On.

The local currency closed at 1,423.8 won against the U.S. dollar, down 6.4 won from the previous day’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 6.3 basis points to 4.158 percent, while the return on benchmark five-year government bonds advanced 8.2 basis points to 4.240 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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