Seoul stocks open lower over rate hikes, China woes

SEOUL-- South Korean shares opened lower Monday amid lingering concerns over the U.S. central bank's monetary tightening and the continued lockdown in China over soaring COVID-19 infections.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 7.07 points, or 0.26 percent, to reach 2,693.32 as of 9:15 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 are China's lockdown and travel restrictions for more than two weeks amid soaring virus cases in Shanghai. The antivirus curbs have feared to further disrupt global supply chains and affect the Chinese economy.

On Friday, the U.S. stock market ended mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.40 percent, and the S&P 500 sank 1.34 percent.

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

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 0.44 percent, and key battery maker LG Energy Solution fell 1.14 percent.

No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix traded flat, and LG Chem decreased 0.95 percent.

But LG Electronics spiked 3.69 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 0.85 percent, and its affiliate Kia surged 1.60 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,229.80 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.7 won from the previous session's close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency