Seoul shares close higher ahead of Fed speech

By Seo Jee-yeon
  • Published : Aug 22, 2014 - 20:44
  • Updated : Aug 22, 2014 - 20:44
South Korean stocks closed 0.61 percent higher Friday as investor sentiment was lifted by upbeat U.S. data ahead of a key U.S. Federal Reserve event, analysts said.

The local currency gained ground against the U.S. greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 12.49 points to close at 2,056.70, a rebound from a 1.19 percent fall Thursday sparked by hints of an early rate hike in the United States.

Trading volume was slim at 273 million shares worth 3.45 trillion won ($3.37 billion), with gainers beating losers 464 to 333.

U.S. unemployment benefit claims fell last week and home sales rose to a 10-month high in July, providing a clear sign that the world’s largest economy is improving. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.36 percent.

According to the Fed minutes released on Wednesday, a growing number of U.S. central bank officials thought the country’s economy was safely on a recovery track, hinting at an early rate hike.

Investors are now watching the Fed’s meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Fed Chair Janet Yellen is expected to give clues on the timing of the rate change.

“There weren’t that many sensitive issues to push up or drag down the index further today,” said Han Beom-ho, a senior analyst at Shinhan Investment.

He said investors see Yellen remaining “dovish” and sustaining the zero-rate policy for a while, offsetting concerns about worse-than-expected Chinese economic data.

“U.S. monetary policy is most important at this moment, whether or not the U.S. winds down its economic stimulus,” said the analyst.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics turned around from a two-year low to gain 0.97 percent to finish at 1,247,000 won, while No. 2 home appliances maker LG Electronics dipped 2.74 percent to 74,500 won. Bank shares were in positive territory, with Shinhan Financial Group, the country’s second-largest banking group by assets, rising 1.97 percent to 51,800 won. KB Financial Group added 1.65 percent to 40,000 won after the financial watchdog imposed a lighter-than-expected punishment on its top executives. (Yonhap)