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Seoul stocks close nearly flat on recession woes

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

South Korean stocks finished nearly unchanged Wednesday, weighed by concerns about inflation and an economic recession. The Korean won rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slipped 0.19 points, or 0.01 percent, to close at 2,626.15 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 561 million shares worth some 7.4 trillion won ($5.9 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 481 to 360.

Institutions sold a net 75 billion won, and foreigners offloaded 103 billion won. Retail investors bought 139 billion won.

Stocks opened higher, tracking stock gains on Wall Street.

Stocks traded choppy as investors' wariness grew over stagflation.

Overnight, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the inflation growth of the world's largest economy is likely to "remain high," and the World Bank revised down the global economic growth forecast for 2022 to 2.9 percent from its January estimate of 4.1 percent expansion.

"Investors are waiting to see how the consumer price index comes out this week," leading Investment & Securities analyst Kwak Byung-yeol said.

The US consumer price data for May, one of the essential gauges for the Federal Reserve's timeline for rate hikes, will be released Friday (US time).

Large caps closed mixed in Seoul.

Top cap Samsung Electronics lost 0.31 percent to 65,300 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix increased 1.92 percent to 106,000 won.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem jumped 4.5 percent to 581,000 won, and financial heavyweight KB Financial Group closed unchanged at 57,400 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor retreated 0.27 percent to 183,000 won, and internet portal operator Naver finished unchanged at 278,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,253.8 won against the US dollar, up 3.9 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)

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