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Seoul stocks again gripped by panic selling on recession fears; Korean won at 13-year low

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 fell again Thursday, as investors avoided risky assets amid monetary tightening and recession fears. The local currency fell to the lowest point against the US dollar in almost 13 years.

After choppy trading, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 28.49 points, or 1.22 percent, to close at 2,314.32, after falling to as low as 2,306.48.

Trading volume was moderate at 729.97 million shares worth 9.98 trillion won ($7.67 billion), with decliners far outpacing gainers by 838 to 77.

Institutions bought a net 926 billion won, while foreign and retail investors offloaded a net 296 billion won and 671 billion won worth of shares, respectively.

"The market will remain volatile for the time being as the US central bank could raise interest rates again next month and the Bank of Korea also seems to be on a course toward big-step raises," said Huh Jae-hwan, an analyst with Eugene Investment & Securities.

Overnight, Wall Street closed lower after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the central bank's aggressive rate hikes could cause an economic downturn.

The US central bank raised its policy rate by .75 percentage point last week, its steepest increase since 1994.

Seoul shares closed mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 0.35 percent to 57,400 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix retreated 2.17 percent to 90,200 won.

Major battery maker LG Energy Solution declined 0.25 percent to 400,000 won and chemical giant LG Chem shed 0.36 percent to 551,000 won. Hyundai Motor decreased 0.29 percent to close at 171,000 won.

Among the gainers, Samsung Biologics, the biotech arm of South Korea's Samsung Group, inched up 0.37 percent to 820,000 won and internet giant Naver increased 2.18 percent to 234,000 won. Kia, the country's second largest carmaker, added 1.05 percent to 77,200 won.

The local currency ended at 1,301.80 won against the US dollar, down 4.5 won from the previous session's close and hitting a 13-year low since July 13, 2009. (Yonhap)

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