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Seoul shares close up after BOK's rate freeze

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 23, 2023 - 16:36

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

South Korean stocks finished higher on Thursday as investors got a much-awaited reprieve from consecutive rate hikes by the Bank of Korea. The local currency rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 21.41 points, or 0.89 percent, to close at 2,439.09.

Trading volume was a bit slim at 393.06 million shares worth 7.33 trillion won ($5.65 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 510 to 362.

Institutions and foreign investors combined bought a net 300.87 billion won worth of shares, while retail investors offloaded a net 332.72 billion won.

The BOK kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.5 percent amid mounting concerns over an economic slowdown, stopping its run of rate hikes since April last year to tackle persistently high inflation.

Overnight, Wall Street ended mixed after market fears that the US central bank could keep raising borrowing rates to bring down inflation were reaffirmed at the US Federal Reserve's recent meeting.

The minutes showed inflation was "well above" the central bank's 2 percent target.

And while the pace of the price increase has slowed in recent months, it said, "Substantially more evidence of progress across a broader range of prices would be required to be confident that inflation was on a sustained downward path."

In Seoul, most big-cap stocks ended higher.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 1.47 percent to close at 62,000 won, and chip giant SK hynix jumped 4.04 percent to 92,700 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor went up 1.15 percent to 176,200 won, and its affiliate Kia advanced 2.55 percent to 76,400 won.

Samsung Biologics increased 0.13 percent to 789,000 won, and Celltrion finished flat at 149,000 won.

Among losers, leading battery maker LG Energy Solution declined 0.2 percent to 507,000 won, and Samsung SDI lost 0.44 percent to 681,000 won.

The local currency ended at 1,297.1 won against the US dollar, up 7.8 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)