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Seoul shares up for 2nd day on eased banking woes; Fed's rate hike in focus

All News 16:02 March 22, 2023

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks ended higher for a second session Wednesday, as concerns about a global banking crisis have eased over the U.S. government's pledge to take actions further to stem a turmoil, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 28.61 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 2,416.96. Trading volume was moderate at 492.72 million shares worth 7.73 trillion won (US$5.91 billion), with decliners outpacing gainers 530 to 336.

Foreigners and institutions bought a net 203.35 billion won and 143.9 billion won worth of shares, respectively, while individuals sold a net 347.42 billion won worth of shares.

The index opened higher, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, and extended gains, as worries about a contagion risk sparked by the collapse of American lenders earlier this month have eased.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday the government is willing to provide further guarantees of bank deposits if the banking crisis worsens, according to foreign media reports.

Investors now await the results of the Federal Reserve's two-day rate-setting meeting set to end Wednesday (U.S. time), where it is largely expected to raise the interest rates by 25 basis points. Traders had widely forecast a 50 basis point increase before the banking system turmoil to curb inflation.

"Investor sentiment has been improved thanks to Yellen's comments and the upturn of financial shares on Wall Street. The Fed's possible slowdown of monetary tightening could also be a positive factor for the stock market," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities, said.

In Seoul, tech, batteries and financial shares led the upturn of the index.

Samsung Electronics rose 1.33 percent to 61,100 won, and chip giant SK hynix spiked 3.95 percent to 86,900 won.

Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution surged 4.95 percent to 573,000 won, and Samsung SDI jumped 2.09 percent to 732,000 won. LG Chem also climbed 3.84 percent to 703,000 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor increased 2.56 percent to 180,300 won, and its affiliate Kia went up 1.54 percent to 78,900 won.

Internet giant Naver soared 3.24 percent to 200,700 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, added 2.96 percent to 62,700 won.

Bank shares also rose, with leading banking firm KB Financial going up 1.44 percent to 49,150 won and its rival Shinhan Financial rising 1.43 percent to 35,450 won.

The local currency ended at 1,307.7 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.5 won from the previous session's close.


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