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Seoul stocks almost flat amid eased monetary tightening woes

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

South Korean stocks closed largely unchanged Thursday as high-flying inflation is balanced against eased concerns over faster-than-expected rate hikes. The Korean won rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 0.22 point, or 0.01 percent, to close at 2,716.71.

Trading volume was moderate at around 650.95 million shares worth some 11.25 trillion won ($9.18 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 540 to 307.

Foreigners offloaded a combined net total of 252 billion won, while retail and institutional investors picked up shares a net worth 243.4 billion won.

Earlier in the day, the Bank of Korea raised its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 1.5 percent to counter rising inflation, marking its fourth rate increase since last August.

Overnight, the US stock markets ended higher, ending a three-day losing streak, as investors shrugged off the latest consumer prices data with inflation hitting a new 40-year high and received better-than-expected corporate earnings results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1 percent, the S&P500 added 1.1 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 2 percent.

"There are expectations that the US inflation might have passed its peak, but worries about economic slowdown and the Fed's tightening risks persist," Chung Da-woon from eBest Investment & Securities said.

On the Seoul bourse, shares closed mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 1.75 percent to 67,500 won, and key battery maker LG Energy Solution rose 2.32 percent to 441,000 won.

No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 2.65 percent to close at 110,000 won, and internet giant Naver gained 0.81 percent to finish at 313,000 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor shed 1.93 percent to 177,500, and its affiliate Kia also slid 1.41 percent to 76,800 won.

The local currency closed at 1,224.70 won against the US dollar, up 3.3 won from the previous session's close (Yonhap)

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