Seoul shares open lower amid rate hike concerns

Seoul shares opened lower Thursday, tracking losses on Wall Street, as better-than-expected U.S. economic data bolstered the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates further this year.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 6.35 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,556.99 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

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.

In Seoul, large-cap stocks were mixed.

Top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. fell 0.3 percent, state utility Korea Electric Power Corp. declined 0.4 percent, leading car battery maker LG Energy Solution shed 0.4 percent, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. was down 0.6 percent.

Among gainers, market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. rose 0.1 percent, national flag carrier Korean Air Co. climbed 0.9 percent, shipbuilding-to-energy conglomerate HD Hyundai jumped 3.8 percent, and leading refiner SK Innovation Co. gained 0.5 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,336.35 won against the U.S. dollar, down 5.85 won from Wednesday’s close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency