Seoul stocks jump 1.5 pct after Fed chief’s inflation comments

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks closed sharply higher Wednesday, as the U.S. Fed chief's comments about inflation were largely within market expectations. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 4.51 points, or 1.54 percent, to close at 2,972.48 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 506 million shares worth some 10.8 trillion won (US$9.1 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 730 to 140.

Institutions bought a net 607 billion won and foreigners purchased 452 billion won, while retail investors sold 1.07 trillion won.

Stocks got off to a strong start, taking a cue from overnight rallies on Wall Street.

Overnight, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 1.41 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.51 percent.

"The KOSPI seems to have rebounded on partially eased concerns about the Fed's tapering," said NH Investment & Securities analyst Kim Young-hwan.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. central bank will take actions if needed in order to reign in the inflation pressure and may taper its balance sheet at a faster pace than the previous time.

He did not specify the time for the next rate hike.

Most large caps closed higher in Seoul.

Top cap Samsung Electronics closed unchanged from the previous session at 78,900 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix increased 0.39 percent to 128,500 won.

Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics climbed 2.88 percent to 857,000 won, internet portal operator Naver moved up 3.13 percent to 345,500 won, and Kakao gained 2.32 percent to 97,200 won.

Electric car battery maker LG Chem surged 5.31 percent to 773,000 won, and Samsung SDI jumped 5.1 percent to 659,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,190.5 won against the U.S. dollar, up 4.2 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 4 basis points to 1.998 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 6.3 basis points to 2.187 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency