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Seoul stocks snap 7-day losing streak on eased Fed policy uncertainty

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

South Korean stocks rebounded slightly Thursday, ending their seven-day losing streak, as uncertainty over the future course by the US Federal Reserve eased somewhat after its sharpest rate hike in almost three decades. The local currency rose against the US dollar.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 4.03 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 2,451.41, after erasing most of its earlier gains. The index hit an intraday high of 2,500.36.

Trading volume was moderate at 567.50 million shares worth 9.34 trillion won ($7.25 billion), with decliners outpacing gainers 435 to 426.

Foreign investors bought a net 146.5 billion won worth of shares, while individuals and institutions sold a net 156.94 billion won and 18.52 billion won worth of shares, respectively.

The index got off to a strong start, tracking Wall Street gains after the Fed raised the key rate by 0.75 percentage point, the biggest increase since 1994.

Investors welcomed the move, as it met market expectations and, according to analysts, signaled the Fed's determination to fight inflation.

But many of the early gains were pared here as concerns were renewed over high-flying inflation and the potential impacts of the Fed's aggressive monetary tightening on global economic growth.

"Uncertainties over the Fed's rate hike have somewhat eased and the Korean won rose against the US dollar, which helped pull up the index," Han Ji-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co., said.

"But it would take time to see any meaningful upturn, and volatility is expected to continue for some time being."

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho pointed to fears over growing market volatility and a global economic slowdown amid accelerating monetary tightening, vowing responses "with a sense of urgency."

In Seoul, big-cap tech and chemical shares gathered ground to lead the upturn.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.33 percent to 60,900 won, and major battery maker LG Energy Solution surged 1.67 percent to 427,000 won.

Chemical giant LG Chem jumped 4.1 percent to 584,000 won, and Samsung SDI surged 3.98 percent to 549,000 won.

Samsung Biologics also climbed 2.15 percent to 807,000 won, and major steelmaker POSCO advanced 2.29 percent to 267,500 won.

But No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix shed 0.51 percent to 97,400 won.

Carmakers also lost ground on profit-taking, with Hyundai Motor falling 0.57 percent to 173,000 won and its smaller affiliate Kia going down 1.15 percent to 77,200 won.

Internet portal giant Naver lost 1.84 percent to 240,000 won, and Kakao slid 0.55 percent to 72,300 won.

The local currency ended at 1,285.6 won against the US dollar, up 4.9 won from the previous session's close.

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