Seoul shares open higher despite overnight Wall Street losses

Bomi Yoon

Employees are at work in Hana Bank's dealing room in Seoul, Jan. 30. Yonhap

Employees are at work in Hana Bank’s dealing room in Seoul, Jan. 30. Yonhap

Korean stocks opened higher Thursday despite overnight Wall Street losses from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s indication that it won’t likely cut interest rates next month against the hopes of many investors.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index climbed 9.56 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,506.65 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

Overnight, the U.S. Fed held its benchmark lending rate steady for the fourth consecutive time. After the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that a rate cut in March is “probably not the most likely case.”

The signal did not bode well with Wall Street investors. The S&P 500 dropped 1.6 percent, marking its worst daily loss since September. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq composite also fell 0.80 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Fed says more 'confidence' needed on inflation front before rate cuts can start

In Seoul, tech and financial shares led the overall gains, with market heavyweight Samsung Electronics adding 0.83 percent and KB Financial jumping 3.71 percent.

Automakers also enjoyed brisk trading, with industry leaders Hyundai Motor and Kia both climbing 3.03 percent and 0.78 percent, respectively.

Battery and steel shares, however, lost ground. Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution dropped 0.92 percent, and steel giant POSCO Holdings slumped 1.41 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,333.80 won ($100) against the U.S. dollar, up 0.80 won from the previous session’s close. (Yonhap)

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