Seoul shares sharply up late Tue. morning ahead of U.S. inflation data

SEOUL, Seoul shares traded sharply higher late Tuesday morning as investors await January's U.S. inflation data due later Tuesday (U.S. time). The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 30.23 points, or 1.15 percent, to 2,650.55 as of 11:20 a.m. The KOSPI opened higher amid hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve will start easing this year due to continued disinflation. The U.S. consumer price index is expected to support the view that decelerating inflation will allow the Fed to start cutting rates this year. Institutions and foreigners bought a combined 784 billion won (US$589 million) worth of stocks, offsetting individuals' stock selling valued at 781 billion won. In Seoul, large caps traded mixed. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. rose 1.1 percent, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. jumped 3.9 percent, leading carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. gained 1.8 percent, and national flag carrier Korean Air Co. was up 2.4 percent. Among decliners, leading steelmaker POSCO Holdings fell 3.2 per cent, leading battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd. declined 0.5 percent, and large discount store chain E-Mart shed 4.5 percent. The local currency was trading at 1,329.05 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.85 won from the previous session's close. Source: Yonhap News Agency