Seoul stocks close nearly flat ahead of Fed chief’s hearing

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks finished nearly unchanged Tuesday as investors await comments by the U.S. Federal Reserve chief at the Senate hearing. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) edged up 0.66 points, or 0.02 percent, to close at 2,927.38 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 559 million shares worth some 10.5 trillion won (US$8.8 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 717 to 170.

Institutions sold a net 268 billion won, and retail investors offloaded 217 billion won, while foreigners bought 487 billion won.

Stocks started solid on bargain hunting as investors sought to buy oversold stocks after the KOSPI's recent slump.

But earlier gains were pared as investors took to the sidelines ahead of the Fed chairman's speech at the U.S. Senate hearing, slated for later in the day.

"Investors seem to be waiting until the Fed chairman's hearing and the U.S. inflation data," said HI Investment & Securities analyst Park Sang-hyun.

Tech, auto and chemical stocks rose, but their advances were offset by a decline in some banking stocks and shipbuilders.

Top cap Samsung Electronics added 1.15 percent to 78,900 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix increased 2.81 percent to 128,000 won, and electric car battery maker LG Chem jumped 3.38 percent to 734,000 won.

Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion surged 5.08 percent to 196,500 won, and financial heavyweight KB Financial Group gained 3.81 percent to 60,000 won.

Among losers, text message app operator Kakao lost 1.66 percent to 95,000 won, and steelmaker POSCO declined 1.32 percent to 300,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,194.7 won against the U.S. dollar, up 4.40 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 2 basis points to 2.038 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 1 basis point to 2.250 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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