Seoul shares extend losses in late Thu. morning trade amid rate woes

Seoul shares extended losses late Thursday morning as investors remain cautious on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise rates further this year following better-than-expected economic data.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 19.44 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,543.90 as of 11:20 a.m.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6 percent to 34,443.19 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 1.1 percent to 13,872.47.

The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) U.S. services index for August stood at 54.4, the highest monthly reading since February. A reading above 50 means growth.

Analysts said the ISM data underpins the possibility that the Fed may raise rates one more time this year.

Institutions and foreigners sold a combined 200 billion won (US$150 million) worth of stocks, offsetting individuals' stock purchases valued at 187 billion won.

Tech, auto and energy stocks were lead decliners.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics Co. fell 0.3 percent, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. declined 0.3 percent, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. dropped 0.6 percent, and leading car battery maker LG Energy Solution shed 1 percent.

Among gainers, national flag carrier Korean Air Co. rose 0.5 percent, leading wireless services provider SK Telecom Co. climbed 0.1 percent, and the country's leading search engine Naver Corp. was up 2.3 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,333.90 won against the greenback as of 11:20 a.m., down 3.4 won from the previous day's close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency