Seoul shares up for 4th day to over 1-month high on eased uncertainty over Fed’s rate hikes

SEOUL– South Korean stocks advanced for a fourth consecutive session Thursday as the chief of the U.S. Federal Reserve has hinted at slowing the pace of its interest rate hikes down the road. The Korean won sharply rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 19.74 points, or 0.82 percent, to close at 2,435.27 points, the highest figure since June 17.

Trading volume was a bit heavy at 477.4 million shares worth some 9.01 trillion won (US$6.93 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 481 to 345.

Foreigners bought a net 410.7 billion won worth of shares, while retail investors and institutions offloaded shares worth 328.9 billion won and 20.66 billion won, respectively.

The market opened higher and had maintained the upward momentum, as the U.S. central bank on Wednesday (U.S. time) announced a 0.75 percentage-point interest rate hike to put its policy rate in a range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent.

It is the highest level since 2018 but a widely expected level.

Chairman Jerome Powell insinuated that the Fed could slow the pace of the rate hikes at some point, noting that the U.S. economy would not be in a recession given the strong labor market.

The U.S. stock market hailed the latest developments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.37 percent Wednesday, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 4.06 percent.

“Powell expressed confidence in the economic situation and cited a need to slow the pace of increases. The comment boosted investor sentiment, particularly overseas buyers,” Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities Co., said.

In Seoul, most big-cap shares ended higher, with tech and chemicals leading the market advance.

Battery giant LG Energy Solution soared 5.59 percent to 415,500 won, and chemical giant LG Chem surged 5.84 percent to 598,000 won.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics added 0.16 percent to 61,900 won, and Samsung SDI climbed 3.96 percent to 578,000 won.

But No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix declined 0.6 percent to 99,400 won.

Bio shares rose, with heavyweight Samsung Biologics advancing 2.62 percent to 863,000 won and Celltrion going up 0.26 percent to 190,000 won.

Carmakers, however, lost ground. Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor fell 0.51 percent to 195,000 won, and Kia shed 0.37 percent to 80,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,296.10 won against the U.S. dollar, up 17.2 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 4.0 basis points to 3.130 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds added 3.2 basis points to 3.182 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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