Seoul stocks open higher as banking jitters ease

SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) -- Seoul stocks opened higher Friday on news that a group of banks would throw a lifeline to a troubled U.S. bank.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 15.84 points, or 0.67 percent, to 2,393.75 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

Overnight, Wall Street finished up after 11 American banks vowed to inject US$30 billion into the ailing San Francisco-based First Republic Bank, reassuring investors of the financial soundness of the U.S. banking system.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.17 percent, the S&P 500 added 1.76 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.48 percent.

In Seoul, top-cap Samsung Electronics advanced 1.84 percent, and chipmaker SK hynix jumped 5.06 percent.

Internet giant Naver climbed 1.47 percent, and Kakao, the operator of South Korea's dominant messaging app, KakaoTalk, rose 1 percent.

Battery makers lost ground, with LG energy Solutions edging down 2.43 percent and Samsung SDI losing 2.3 percent. Chemical giant LG Chem declined 2.19 percent.

The local currency was changing hands at 1,302.9 won against the greenback as of 9:15 a.m., up 10.1 won from the previous session's close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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