Seoul stocks up for 5th day amid Fed rate hike worries

SEOUL– Seoul shares ended higher Tuesday, extending their winning streak to a fifth day despite concerns over the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes following hawkish Fed officials’ comments. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 1.12 points, or 0.05 percent, to close at 2,351.31 points.

Trading volume was moderate at 351.76 million shares worth some 6.6 trillion won (US$5.3 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 441 to 398.

Fed officials from San Francisco and Atlanta signaled the U.S. central bank could raise rates to somewhere over 5 percent, pouring cold water on investor sentiment, analysts said.

“The stock market just inched up as investors remain wary of Thursday’s U.S. inflation report and major corporate earnings results later this month,” Park Hee-cheol, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities Co., said.

Investors now hope Thursday’s U.S. consumer prices will show inflation is moderating, allowing the Fed to slow down plans for further rate hikes, he said.

Institutions bought a net 297 billion won worth of stocks, offsetting individuals’ and foreigners’ combined stock selling valued at 300 billion won.

In Seoul, large-cap stocks were mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. fell 0.5 percent to 60,400 won, leading wireless services provider SK Telecom Co. declined 1.3 percent to 46,900 won, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. dropped 0.6 percent to 163,000 won, and No. 1 refiner SK Innovation Co. shed 2.6 percent to 148,500 won.

Among gainers, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. rose 0.6 percent to 86,500 won, leading car battery maker LG Energy Solution climbed 2.1 percent to 473,500 won, and the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. gained 0.5 percent to 19,700 won.

LG Energy Solution got a boost from the news that the battery maker is “in talks” with Ford Motor Co. to build a battery cell plant in Turkey.

But SK Innovation declined as its wholly owned unit SK On is considering withdrawing from an initial accord with Ford to build the plant amid higher interest rates and a global economic slowdown.

The local currency closed at 1,244.70 won against the U.S. dollar, down 1.2 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 2.1 basis point to 3.556 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond declined 0.9 basis point to 3.485 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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