S. Korean shares close higher on hopes of U.S. rate cuts

South Korean stocks closed higher for a second consecutive session Thursday amid growing hopes of U.S. rate cuts. The local currency slightly lost ground against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 10.74 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 2,620.32. Trade volume was heavy at 422.7 million shares worth 12.2 trillion won (US$9.18 billion), with gainers slightly outnumbering losers 451 to 436. Foreign investors remained net buyers for a seventh consecutive session, net purchasing 294.7 billion won worth of local shares, with institutions also scooping up 411.4 billion won. Retail investors offloaded 709.7 billion won. The index had opened higher tracking overnight gains on Wall Street. Global investment banks there expressed hopes in a recent survey that the U.S. Federal Reserve may start slashing interest rates in the second quarter. Large caps closed mixed. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 1.20 percent to 74,100 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix sur ged 3.48 percent to 142,800 won. Top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 2.04 percent to 250,000 won, but its smaller affiliate Kia lost 1.31 percent to 113,200 won. Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution advanced 2.07 percent to 394,000 won, while top pharmaceutical firm Celltrion added 0.34 percent to 179,600 won. The local currency closed at 1,328.20 won against the greenback, down 0.40 won from the previous session's close. Source: Yonhap News Agency