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Seoul shares close flat amid U.S. debt ceiling uncertainties

Stocks 15:52 May 24, 2023

SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks ended nearly flat after a seven-day rise Wednesday, as uncertainties linger over talks on the United States' debt ceiling to avoid a federal default. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed 0.10 points, or 0.0 percent, to close at 2,567.45. Trading volume was moderate at 1.06 billion shares worth 7.79 trillion won (US$5.91 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 460 to 397.

Institutions sold a net 185.5 billion won worth of shares, while retail and foreign investors bought a net 132.165 billion won and 94.23 billion won worth of shares, respectively.

The index opened slightly lower and moved within a tight range before ending unchanged, as investors moved to lock in profits from recent gains amid little progress about the U.S. debt ceiling issue.

U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said late Monday (local time) that they had productive talks, but no agreement has been made.

"Investor sentiment remained fragile as fears about the negotiation have spread further and strong U.S. manufacturing activity data raised concerns about further interest rate hikes," Kiwoom Securities analyst Han Ji-young said.

U.S. Composite PMI Output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, rose to a 13-month high in May, according to foreign media reports, which fueled expectations that the Federal Reserve would continue its interest rate hike cycle.

In Seoul, top-cap shares traded mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.15 percent to 68,500 won, while chip giant SK hynix inched down 0.20 percent to 97,700 won.

Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution surged 1.92 percent to 585,000 won, and LG Chem added 0.14 percent to 720,000 won. Samsung SDI grew 0.56 percent to 714,000 won.

Major bio firm Samsung Biologics remained flat at 792,000 won, and Celltrion shed 0.28 percent to 179,000 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor remained unchanged at 207,500 won, and its affiliate Kia increased 0.45 percent to 89,100 won.

No. 1 steelmaker POSCO Holdings sank 1.59 percent to 371,000 won on profit-taking, and POSCO Future remained unchanged at 333,500 won.

Major platform operators tumbled. Internet giant Naver sank 4.25 percent to 203,000 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, retreated 2.07 percent to 56,800 won.

The local currency ended at 1,317.4 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.7 won from the previous session's close.


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