Seoul shares rise late Thu. morning as exports gain for 4th month

South Korean stocks rose more than 1 percent late Thursday morning despite overnight Wall Street losses, as local blue chips gained momentum as the nation's exports rose for the fourth month. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index climbed 26.40 points, or 1.06 percent, to 2,523.49 as of 11:20 a.m. South Korea's exports moved up for the fourth consecutive month in January to reach US$54.6 billion, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Semiconductor shipments, in particular, shot up 56.2 percent on-year, growing for three consecutive months and marking the sharpest increase since December 2017. Overnight, the U.S. Federal Reserve held its benchmark lending rate steady for the fourth consecutive time. After the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that a rate cut in March is "probably not the most likely case." The signal did not bode well with Wall Street investors. The S and P 500 dropped 1.6 percent, marking its worst da ily loss since September. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq composite also fell 0.80 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. In Seoul, tech and financial shares led the overall gains, with market heavyweight Samsung Electronics adding 1.83 percent and KB Financial soaring 5.65 percent. Automakers also enjoyed brisk trading, with industry leaders Hyundai Motor and Kia both climbing 5.60 percent and 1.94 percent, respectively. Battery and bio shares, however, lost ground. Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution dropped 1.84 percent, and Samsung Biologics slumped 1.19 percent. The local currency was trading at 1,331.30 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.30 won from the previous session's close. Source: Yonhap News Agency