Seoul shares rally to hit more than 1-week high on eased rate hike woes

South Korean stocks jumped more than 1.5 percent to hit a more than one-week high Thursday as investors were boosted by the latest U.S. inflation data that would tone down the Fed's hawkish view on interest rates. The local currency increased against the U.S. greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 38.19 points, or 1.51 percent, to finish at 2,572.89, the highest since Sept. 5, when the index finished at 2,582.18.

Trading volume was moderate at 406.1 million shares worth 9.4 trillion won (US$7.1 billion), with winners sharply outnumbering losers 608 to 253.

Overnight, the U.S. consumer price index for August rose 3.7 percent from a year earlier, the fastest in 14 months, on high-flying oil prices.

But analysts expect the Federal Reserve will focus on core inflation, stripping out volatile food and energy prices, which continued to slow to an annual 4.3 percent last month as expected.

"The August inflation rose at a higher-than-expected pace, but at the same time, the core inflation shrugged off concerns over a rate hike," said Noh Dong-gil, an analyst from Shinhan Securities Co. "So the Federal Reserve will likely remain patient at the upcoming rate-setting meeting next week."

Most shares gained ground across the board in Seoul.

Samsung Electronics, the No. 1 memory chipmaker in the world, expanded 1.13 percent to 71,700 won, and its rival SK hynix increased 3.12 percent to 122,200 won.

Battery makers were strong, with industry leader LG Energy Solution adding 2.73 percent to 508,000 won and Samsung SDI vaulting 4.66 percent to 584,000 won.

Top online portal operator Naver advanced 1.58 percent to 225,500 won, and its rival Kakao increased 1.05 percent to 48,300 won.

Leading pharmaceutical firm SK biopharm soared 6.9 percent to 93,000 won, and Samsung Biologics went up 1.11 percent to 731,000 won.

The Korean won ended at a 10-day high of 1,325.7 won against the U.S. dollar, up 4.3 won from Wednesday's close.

Source: Yonhap News Agency