Seoul stocks down late Mon. morning on rate hikes, China woes

SEOUL-- South Korean shares traded lower late Monday morning, as investors remained worried about the U.S. central bank's monetary tightening and China's growth momentum amid high inflation and the protracted COVID-19 pandemic.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 11.02 points, or 0.41 percent, to trade at 2,689.37 as of 11:20 a.m.

Investor sentiment has been dampened by the Federal Reserve's repeated warnings of faster-than-expected belt-tightening to curb inflation, which have stoked fears of slowing global economic growth.

Adding to woes is high inflation in China.

Earlier in the day, China said that its producer price index surged 8.3 percent on-year in March and the consumer price index grew 1.5 percent, both higher than expected.

The high prices came amid the lockdown in Shanghai for more than two weeks over soaring virus cases. The antivirus curbs have been feared to further disrupt global supply chains and affect the Chinese and the global economy.

On the Seoul bourse, big-cap tech and battery shares lost ground to drag down the index.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 0.15 percent, and key battery maker LG Energy Solution sank 2.62 percent.

No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 0.89 percent, and LG Chem decreased 2.10 percent.

Bio shares lost ground, with Samsung Biologics going down 0.74 percent and Celltrion falling 1.52 percent.

But LG Electronics advanced 1.64 percent after reporting an upbeat first-quarter earnings forecast last week.

Auto shares also gathered ground to limit the fall of the index. Top automaker Hyundai Motor rose 1.42 percent, and its affiliate Kia surged 3.34 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,232.50 won against the U.S. dollar, down 7.4 won from the previous session's close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency