Seoul shares down for 8th day on faster than expected U.S. inflation, weak earnings

South Korean shares extended their losing streak to eight consecutive sessions Friday, marking the longest losing streak in more than 18 months following stronger than expected inflation in the United States. The Korean won fell slightly against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 15.22 points, or 0.60 percent, to close at 2,525.05. It marked the first time since May 2022 that the KOSPI had dropped for eight consecutive sessions. Trade volume was moderate at 772.4 million shares worth 8.18 trillion won (US$6.23 billion), with losers outnumbering gainer 620 to 269. Institutions remained net sellers for the eighth consecutive session, offloading 193.7 billion won worth of shares. Foreigners net sold 213.5 billion won, while retail investors scooped up a net 404.2 billion won. Investors remained spooked by higher-than-expected U.S. consumer price inflation for December, which sapped market bets that the Federal Reserve will cut rates in the near future. Also, weak er than expected corporate earnings helped subdue investor sentiment. In Seoul, tech, auto and platform shares led the market decline. Samsung Electronics, the world's largest producer of memory chips, shed 0.14 percent to close at 73,100 won, as the tech behemoth earlier predicted its operating profits to have shrunk 35 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter, indicating a prolonged slump in the semiconductor sector. SK hynix, a major chipmaker, slipped 1.40 percent to 134,100 won, while leading drug maker Celltrion plunged 3.95 percent to 196,900 won. Top automaker Hyundai Motor lost 0.53 percent to 186,000 won, with its smaller affiliate Kia Motors retreating 1.56 percent to 88,300 won. The local currency closed at 1,313.50 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.50 won from the previous session's close. Source: Yonhap News Agency