Seoul shares little changed amid rate hike woes

SEOUL, South Korean stocks ended almost flat after a weak start Monday, as upbeat U.S. jobs data helped ease recession fears despite worries over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s drastic rate hike. The local currency lost ground against the U.S. dollar.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 2.3 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,493.10, in choppy trading that started off some 0.4 percent lower at the opening bell.

Trading volume was moderate at 409.1 million shares with 7.41 trillion won (US$5.67 billion), with gainers slightly outpacing decliners 422 to 409.

“The stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report helped ease recession fears, capping the decline in stock markets,” said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities Co.

“This is a positive factor for the market, but the stronger dollar continues to weigh on tech stocks, especially the secondary battery shares,” Seo said.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended lower Friday (U.S. time), after the latest U.S. nonfarm payroll data showed an employment expansion in July that was far larger than expected. The upbeat data raised the possibility that the Fed will push ahead with another 0.75 percentage-point rate hike at its next meeting in September.

In Seoul, stocks closed the session mixed, with tech blue chips and shipping firms losing ground while steelmakers and auto companies finished higher.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 1.14 percent to 60,800 won, with chip giant SK hynix dipping 2.23 percent to 96,300 won. Battery maker Samsung SDI lost 0.17 percent to 597,000 won.

Leading container shipper HMM retreated 3.65 percent to 25,050 won.

But top automaker Hyundai Motor rose 0.77 percent to 196,000 won, and steel giant POSCO Holdings gained 0.21 percent to 240,000 won. Biopharmaceutical company Celltrion also climbed 3.3 percent to 203,500 won.

The local currency ended at 1,306.40 won against the U.S. dollar, down 8.1 won from Friday’s close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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