The Korea Herald


Seoul shares inch up amid inflation woes

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 20, 2023 - 16:11

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

South Korean stocks ended slightly higher Monday as investors remain cautious about the United States' monetary policy path amid high inflation. The local currency rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 3.91 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,455.12. Trading volume was a bit slim at 382.21 million shares worth 7.43 trillion won ($5.74 billion), with gainers outpacing decliners 560 to 320.

The index opened markedly lower but rose to positive terrain after some fluctuations.

Institutions and individuals bought a net 172.04 billion won and 94.73 billion won worth of shares, respectively, while foreign investors sold a net 315.55 billion won.

Investors are closely watching the future monetary policy paths of the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Korea, as recent data showed stubbornly high inflation, which fuels concerns about their continued push for aggressive monetary tightening.

Last week, US data showed that the producer price index for January rose 0.7 percent from a month earlier, the largest on-month gain since June last year and more than economists expected.

The South Korean central bank will hold a rate decision meeting Thursday, and the Fed will release the minutes of its latest policy meeting Wednesday.

"Bringing inflation under control is nearly impossible as the job market and consumption remain solid. The Fed would seek stronger rate hikes or maintain the high levels for longer," Daishin Securities analyst Lee Kyung-min said.

In Seoul, big-cap shares traded mixed.

Top-cap Samsung Electronics rose 0.16 percent to 62,700 won, and chip giant SK hynix grew 0.54 percent to 92,500 won.

But leading battery maker LG Energy Solution sank 3.19 percent to 516,000 won, Samsung SDI fell 1.56 percent to 692,000 won, and LG Chem decreased 3.19 percent to 667,000 won.

Carmakers ended lower, with top automaker Hyundai Motor shedding 0.45 percent to 178,200 won and its affiliate Kia going down 0.13 percent to 76,300 won.

Bio shares gathered ground. Samsung Biologics climbed 0.75 percent to 805,000 won, and Celltrion jumped 1.49 percent to 157,000 won.

Internet giant Naver went up 1.62 percent to 219,000 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, increased 1.42 percent to 64,200 won.

Among gainers, Posco Holdings surged 3.59 percent to 346,000 won and KB Financial rose 1.4 percent to 50,700 won.

The local currency ended at 1,294.5 won against the US dollar, up 5 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)