Seoul shares up late Mon. morning on financial, auto gains

South Korean stocks gained momentum late Monday morning as institutions shored up financial, auto and other blue chips following last week's overall market decline amid eased tensions in the Middle East. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 24.81 points, or 0.96 percent, to trade at 2,616.67 as of 11:20 a.m. Financial stocks led the overall bullish market, with KB Financial surging 8.48 percent and Shinhan Financial soaring 6.35 percent. Automakers advanced as well, with industry leader Hyundai Motor and No. 2 automaker Kia adding 3.83 percent and 3.62 percent, respectively. Bio shares also gained strong momentum, with Celltrion rising 2.2 percent and Samsung Biologics advancing 2.56 percent. Top battery maker LG Energy Solution rose 1.23 percent. Tech shares, meanwhile, retreated after Nvidia shares plunged last week. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics and chip rival SK hynix dropped 2.06 percent and 3.23 percent, respectively. The local currency was trading at 1,381.65 won agai nst the greenback, up 0.55 won from the previous session's close. Source: Yonhap News Agency