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Seoul stocks tumble more than 1 pct on rate hike woes; Korean won continues decline

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks fell more than 1 percent Tuesday as investors shunned risky assets amid concerns over further aggressive rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Korean won continued to weaken against the U.S. dollar following a sharp drop in the previous session.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 27.16 points, or 1.10 percent, to close at 2,435.34, extending the losing streak to a fifth session.

Trading volume was moderate at 460.02 million shares worth 7.34 trillion won (US$5.49 billion), with decliners outpacing gainers 686 to 206.

Institutions shed shares worth 132.03 billion won, while retail and foreign investors picked up a net 139.04 billion and 969 million won worth of shares.

"The weak market momentum around the globe is caused mainly by uncertainty over the pace of U.S. interest rate hikes and related macroeconomic circumstances," Kiwoom Securities analyst Han Ji-young said.

Investors will be watching what Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says on Friday (U.S. time) at the annual Jackson Hole symposium about the path of monetary policy and the economy.

Last month, the Fed raised its key interest rate by 75 basis points for the second straight month. The minutes of its July meeting showed that it would continue aggressive monetary tightening to tame inflation.

Rate hikes in the U.S. and the resultant strong dollar could prompt investors to leave the South Korean market in pursuit of higher returns, analysts said.

Most big-cap shares lost ground Tuesday, with tech and bio shares under heavy downward pressure.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 1.5 percent to 59,100 won and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 1.68 percent to 93,600 won amid news that exports of semiconductors logged an on-year fall this month.

Major chemical firm LG Chem sank 2.97 percent to 620,000 won, and Samsung SDI retreated 2.17 percent to 587,000 won.

Among major tech firms, key battery maker LG Energy Solution was the only gainer by going up 0.56 percent to 445,000 won.

Samsung Biologics, the biotech arm of South Korea's Samsung Group, tumbled 2.59 percent to 829,000 won, and pharmaceutical giant Celltrion skidded 3.0 percent to 194,000 won.

Internet portal giant Naver fell 1.83 percent to 241,000 won, and platform operator Kakao went down 0.27 percent to 74,800 won.

Major carmakers remained unchanged. Hyundai Motor ended flat at 189,000 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia at 77,400 won.

The local currency ended at 1,345.5 won against the U.S. dollar, down 5.7 won from the previous session's close. It marked the lowest figure since April 28, 2009, when it ended at 1,356.80 won.

The decline came after the won slid to the 1,330-level against the greenback for the first time in more than 13 years in the previous day.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Yoon Suk-yeol said that the government will prepare well for any negative impact on markets from the plunging exchange rate. The foreign exchange authorities also vowed to enchance market monitoring against any speculative bets in a verbal intervention to stem the won's further decline.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 3.6 basis points to 3.281 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 2.7 basis points to 3.343 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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