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Seoul stocks edge up on US gains after Fed announcement

South Korean stocks finished higher Thursday, taking a cue from overnight gains on Wall Street as the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, analysts said. The local currency rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 8.73 points, or 0.36 percent, to close at 2,443.24. Trading volume was moderate at 420 million shares worth 5.3 trillion won ($4.7 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 430 to 356.

The local stock market opened higher on US gains and a record second-quarter earnings report from Samsung Electronics, the top cap here. 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Earlier in the day, Samsung said it racked up 14.1 trillion won of operating profit in the April-June period, up 72.7 percent on-year, apparently helped by the robust performance of its chip business.

It marks the highest quarterly operating profit ever posted by the tech giant. The previous record was set in the third quarter of 2013, when Samsung's operating profit hit 10.1 trillion won.

"The dovish statement from the Federal Open Market Committee contributed to a rise of US shares overnight, which also had a positive impact on the Korean main bourse," said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.

Foreigners and retail investors offloaded shares worth a net 211 billion won and 137 billion won, respectively, while institutions scooped up 360 billion won more than they sold.

Market heavyweights traded mixed.

LG Chem, South Korea's top chemicals firm, gained 1.38 percent to end at 331,000 won, while AmorePacific, the country's leading cosmetics firm added 2.64 percent to 291,500 won.

SK hynix, a major chipmaker, advanced 2.4 percent to 68,400 won, but Samsung Electronics actually edged down 0.08 percent to end at 2,490,000 won, as investors opted to cash in profits, according to analysts.

Automakers were also among the losers with Hyundai Motor, the No. 1 automaker, falling 1.01 percent to end at 146,500 won.

On Wednesday, the carmaker said its second-quarter net profit plunged 48 percent on-year on weaker demand from China amid a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a US missile defense system here.

The local currency closed at 1,112.80 won against the US dollar, up 9.00 won from the previous session's close.
 
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 1.7 basis points at 1.712 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond shed 2.4 basis points to 1.908 percent. (Yonhap)
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