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Seoul shares down late Mon. morning on rate hike woes

Stocks 11:35 May 16, 2022

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- Seoul shares pared earlier gains late Monday morning amid investors' jitters over possibly aggressive rate hikes in major economies.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index had fallen 5.39 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,598.85 as of 11:20 a.m.

"It is not the stage where we can completely rule out the possibility of a big step hike," Bank of Korea Gov. Rhee Chang-yong said earlier in the day.

"Whether we could consider (a 0.5-percentage point increase) will rest on how much inflation rises going forward," he added.

The BOK raised the policy rate by a quarter-percentage point to 1.5 percent last month as part of efforts to tamp down rising inflation and curb household debt.

Seoul stocks opened higher Monday, tracking Wall Street gains boosted by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's remarks that the U.S. central bank was not "actively considering" a more aggressive 75-basis-point hike.

Most large-cap stocks were trading mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. traded flat, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. lost 1.33 percent. Major battery maker LG Energy Solution went down 0.75 percent.

The country's largest chemical company, LG Chem, was up 0.39 percent, and Kakao, the operator of ubiquitous Kakao Talk, rose 1.34 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,282.60 won against the dollar, up 1.60 won from the previous session's close.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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