[SEOUL] South Korean shares edged up early on Wednesday, as US Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen's comments eased some uncertainty over the Fed's policy outlook while more investors were cautiously betting for Britain to stay in the European Union.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.3 per cent at 1,987.68 points as of 0214 GMT, set for a fourth straight session of gains. The index rose as much as 0.6 per cent shortly after opening.
Ms Yellen said on Tuesday that the Fed's ability to raise interest rates this year may hinge on a rebound in hiring, while immediate risks from the potential fallout of Britain's June 23 vote may also have some impact.
"Both Yellen's comments and weakening Brexit worries boosted the Kospi in earlier trade," said Kim Ye Eun, a stock analyst at LIG Investment & Securities.
"Shares will remain around the current level until we have the Brexit vote result, but investors may end up dumping stocks to take profits early," added Ms Kim. The vote results are expected to affect markets trading in Asia on Friday.
Offshore investors were poised to be net sellers, offloading 7.4 billion Korean won (S$8.6 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.
Chipmaker SK Hynix Inc rose 3 per cent while SK Innovation Co Ltd rose 3.3 per cent.
Advancers and decliners were quite even at 408 to 374.
The South Korean won was nearly steady and was quoted at 1,156.6 to the US dollar, at the same level compared with Tuesday's close, as investors held their breath ahead of the Brexit referendum.
September futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.05 point to 110.63.