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Seoul stocks sink for 2nd session on US rate hike woes

South Korean stocks retreated for the second straight session Thursday, largely as the US Federal Reserve minutes stoked concerns that the Fed may push harsher-than-expected rate hikes. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) decreased 33.44 points, or 1.13 percent, to close at 2,920.53 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 774 million shares worth some 13.1 trillion won ($10.9 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 665 to 223.

Institutions sold a net 483 billion won, while foreigners bought 182 billion won and retail investors purchased 282 billion won.

Stocks got off to a lackluster start, tracking the overnight Wall Street tech plunge.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 3.34 percent overnight and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.07 percent amid concerns that higher interest rates could reduce corporate margins.

The Fed's minutes also accelerated the depreciation of the local currency against the US dollar.

The Korean currency closed at 1,201 won to the greenback, down 4.1 won from the previous session, marking the weakest closing since July 24, 2020.

"Stocks were most largely influenced by the concerns that the Fed could reveal more hawkish tapering policy than previously expected. The tapering concerns also fanned worries that the liquidity in dollar markets may decrease," KB Securities analyst Ha In-hwan said.

In Seoul, market kingpin Samsung Electronics lost 0.65 percent to 76,900 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix decreased 0.4 percent to 125,000 won.

Internet portal giant Naver slumped 4.65 percent to 338,500 won, with its rival Kakao shedding 5.21 percent to 100,000 won.

Among gainers, banking top cap Kakao Bank advanced 0.72 percent to 56,000 won, and electric car maker LG Chem increased 3.92 percent to 690,000 won. Steelmaker POSCO jumped 3.05 percent to 304,500 won. (Yonhap)
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