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Seoul shares retreat amid rate hike woes

An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks retreated Thursday after a choppy session amid jitters about high inflation at home and in major economies. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index declined 6.29 points, or 0.27 percent, to close at 2,322.32 points.

Trading volume was relatively low at about 344 million shares worth some 6.4 trillion won ($4.9 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 433 to 418.

Institutions sold a net 534 billion won, while foreigners bought 398 billion won and retail investors purchased 105 billion won.

Stocks opened lower, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street amid concerns about fast-growing inflation.

Overnight, US stocks dropped as the estimate-beating consumer price index for June fanned worries that the Federal Reserve can accelerate its rate hike moves. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.67 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slipped 0.15 percent.

Trading turned increasingly choppy in the afternoon.

"It seems like investors are divided over how to interpret the US consumer price index. Stocks seem to have rebounded on investors' expectations that the fallen fuel prices are not projected in the index yet and will eventually pick out later," Shinhan Investment Corp. researcher Choi Yoo-joon said.

In Seoul, market behemoth Samsung Electronics slid 0.86 percent to 57,500 won, and bio heavyweight Samsung Biologics declined 0.84 percent to 825,000 won.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor decreased 0.54 percent to 182,500 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix closed unchanged at 94,000 won.

Battery giant LG Energy Solution inched up 0.12 percent to 399,500 won, and chemical giant LG Chem increased 2.51 percent to 530,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,312.1 won against the US dollar, down 5.2 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)

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