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Seoul shares close higher on hope for US rate cuts

By Yonhap

Published : Dec. 15, 2023 - 17:20

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An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap) An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks closed higher Friday amid expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will start its rate-cutting cycle in 2024. The local currency inched down against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 19.38 points, or 0.76 percent, to close at 2,563.56.

Trade volume was moderate at 458.2 million shares worth 12.7 trillion won ($9.8 billion), with winners outpacing losers 498 to 378.

Foreigners bought a net 849.5 billion won, while individuals dumped a net 1.14 trillion won. Institutions bought a net 298.6 billion won.

"Large-cap shares continued to remain strong on hopes the U.S. will start cutting its interest rates next year," Kim Seok-hwan, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities said.

Kim noted robotics shares were strong in particular on news the government will inject 3 trillion won in the industry by 2030.

Early this week, the Federal Reserve held its benchmark lending rate steady for a third consecutive time at the rate between 5.25 and 5.50 percent, and hinted that its hiking campaign -- launched in March 2022 -- may be near or at an end.

Techs and autos led the market advance.

Top tech giant Samsung Electronics rose 0.27 percent to 73,300 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix moved up 2.41 percent to 140,000 won.

Auto and IT shares basked in big gains.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor shot up 4.33 percent to 192,800 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia climbed 2.41 percent to 89,300 won.

Internet portal operator Naver gained 1.35 percent to 226,000 won, and Kakao, the operator of the country's top mobile messenger, added 1.1 percent to 54,900 won.

Steel giant Posco Holdings soared 4.12 percent to 480,000 won, and leading chemical producer LG Chem skyrocketed 6.25 percent to 493,000 won.

But leading battery maker LG Energy Solution lost 0.12 percent to 422,000 won, and Celltrion, a major pharmaceutical company, plunged 7.3 percent to 170,100 won.

The local currency closed at 1,296.5 won against the greenback, down 1.1 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 2.3 basis points to 3.281 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds rose 2.4 basis points to 3.312 percent. (Yonhap)