Seoul stocks end lower on concerns over Fed’s combative tightening

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks closed down Friday amid concerns that the Fed is heading for more aggressive monetary tightening than expected to tame rising prices. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

After a choppy session, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 20.65 points, or 0.76 percent, to close at 2,696.06.

Trading volume was moderate at around 683.37 million shares worth some 9.44 trillion won (US$7.68 billion), with gainers slightly outnumbering losers 425 to 419.

Foreigners and institutional investors offloaded a combined net total of 762 billion won, while retail investors picked up shares worth a net 750 billion won.

Overnight, the U.S. stock markets ended down as investors faced renewed risks of the Fed's monetary tightening to curb the highest inflation in four decades, following the remarks by New York Fed President John Williams that a half percentage-point hike is a "reasonable option."

The 10-year Treasury yields rose to 2.8 percent, the highest level since December 2018.

"Even though there are expectations that inflation might have peaked, oil prices should ultimately stabilize (to sooth market jitters)," Lee Kyung-min from Daishin Securities said. "The market still reacts sensitively to Fed officials' remarks."

On the Seoul bourse, market heavyweights closed lower with tech stocks leading the overall market decline.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 1.33 percent to close at 66,600 won, after dipping to a fresh 52-week low of 66,500 won during the intraday session.

Key battery maker LG Energy Solution declined 1.36 percent to 435,000 won.

No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 1.82 percent to close at 108,000 won, and internet giant Naver shed 1.44 percent to finish at 308,500 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor dropped 0.28 percent to 177,000, and its affiliate Kia also went down 0.13 percent to 76,700 won.

The local currency closed at 1,229.60 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.9 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mostly down. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 5.6 basis points to 2.944 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 5.9 basis points to 3.166 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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