Seoul shares end over 1 pct higher on reviving hope over Fed’s rate cut

Seoul shares closed higher Friday as investors betted on a possible rate cut by the Federal Reserve as the U.S. retail sales fell by a wider margin than expected. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 34.96 points, or 1.34 percent, to close at 2,648.76. Trade volume was moderate at 584.7 million shares worth 10 trillion won (US$7.48 billion), with decliners outnumbering gainers 627 to 249. Foreigners were net buyers with 558.4 billion won, while individuals offloaded a net 832 billion won. Institutions scooped up a net 262.1 billion won. Overnight, Wall Street shares gathered ground after the U.S. retail sales for January fell 0.8 percent on-month, sharper than the market's expectations, which rekindled hope over the Fed's rate cut. Analysts, however, noted that South Korean shares have not shown signs of a full-fledged recovery due to a lack of other events. "The South Korean stocks traded in a limited range due to lack of momentum," Kim Jee -hyun, an analyst from Kiwoom Securities, said. In Seoul, battery makers gained ground following overnight gains in Tesla, with LG Energy Solution rising 3.67 percent to 410,000 won and Samsung SDI advancing 4.79 percent to 404,500 won. Chemical firms also closed higher, with LG Chem soaring 4.24 percent to 504,000 won and leading oil refiner SK Innovation jumping 3.92 percent to 127,100 won. Financial firms were winners as well, with KB Financial rising 3.99 percent to 67,700 won. Kakao Bank, an affiliate of Kakao, which operates South Korea's top mobile messenger, added 1.01 percent to 30,100 won. Top tech giant Samsung Electronics, however, fell 0.27 percent to 72,800 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix edged down 1.28 percent to 146,800 won. The local currency closed at 1,335.40 won against the greenback, down 1.4 won from the previous session's close. Source: Yonhap News Agency