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Seoul shares rise for third day amid eased rate hike worries

By Yonhap

Published : March 3, 2023 - 16:26

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

South Korean stocks closed marginally higher Friday, on growing hopes that the US Federal Reserve could go for smaller interest rate hikes despite data showing a resilient economy. The local currency gained sharply against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 4.22 points, or 0.17 percent, to finish at 2,432.07. Trading volume was moderate at 363.8 million shares worth 7.73 trillion won ($5.93 billion), with gainers outnumbering decliners 467 to 410.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic said Thursday he believes the Fed should go "steady" on interest rate hikes, a dovish remark from someone known as one of the most hawkish policymakers.

"Bostic's remark reflects the market projection of the peak interest rate at 5 to 5.25 percent, unchanged from the December forecast," Kim Jee-hyun, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co., said.

"We expect to see the effect of the Fed's rate hikes on the economy toward the latter half of this year," Kim said.

Bostic's comment caused Wall Street to rally, shrugging off data indicating a robust US economy, which the Fed has cited as the grounds for steep rate hikes.

Shares in Seoul finished mixed, with chemical and bio companies closing in the green, while financial sectors wound up in the negative terrain.

Posco Chemical, a leading producer of battery materials, shot up 5.05 percent to 229,000 won. Biopharmaceutical giant Celltrion climbed 4.8 percent to 150,600 won.

Top-cap Samsung Electronics lost 0.49 percent to 60,500 won.

KB Financial, the biggest banking group by market cap, declined 1.19 percent to 50,000 won. Top life insurer Samsung Life Insurance also slid 0.74 percent to 66,900 won.

The local currency ended at 1,301.60 won against the US dollar, up 14.0 won from Thursday's close. (Yonhap)