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Seoul shares up for 2nd day amid revived hopes for U.S. rate cuts

Seoul shares closed higher Monday as U.S. inflation data was in line with market expectations raising hopes that the Federal Reserve may start cutting rates in June at the earliest. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 1.23 points, or 0.04 percent, to close at 2,747.86.

Trade volume was slim at 391.77 million shares worth 9.9 trillion won (US$7.3 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 573 to 295.

Institutions and foreigners bought a combined 294 billion won worth of stocks, offsetting individuals’ stock selling valued at 317.11 billion won.

The U.S. personal consumption expenditures index for February, released Friday, was roughly within market expectations.

The U.S. central bank is widely expected to make this year’s first rate cut in June.

In Seoul, airlines and domestic-focused stocks led the gains.

Hanjin KAL Corp., the parent firm of Korean Air Co., jumped 3.4 percent to 61,500 won, Korean Air rose 1.6 percent to 22,050 won, le
ading budget carrier Jeju Air Co. climbed 4.7 percent to 2,870 won, leading cosmetics firm Amorepacific Corp. jumped 6.3 percent to 129,100 won and state utility Korea Electric Power Corp. was up 0.5 percent to 22,100 won.

Among the decliners, market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. fell 0.5 percent to 82,000 won, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. declined 2.4 percent to 227,500 won, leading steelmaker POSCO Holdings shed 1 percent to 418,000 won and shipbuilding group HD Hyundai was down 1 percent to 70,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,349.40 won against the greenback, down 2.2 won from the previous session’s close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency