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Seoul: Shares touch 1-mth high, won gains before Fed rate decision


[SEOUL] Seoul shares edged up on Thursday morning as higher oil prices helped chemical and refinery shares, but trade was volatile as investors waited to see whether the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates later in the global day.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.1 per cent at 1,978.15 points as of 0233 GMT. It touched as high as 1,989.07 points at opening, the highest intraday level since Aug 17. Losers outnumbered Gainers by 13 to 10. "Commodity prices have sharply risen recently, oil-related shares bolstered today's market," said Kang Hyun-gie, a stock analyst at Dongbu Securities.

Chemical and refinery shares outperformed the broad market, up 1.9 percent as oil prices jumped as much as 6 percent overnight.

Leading refinery SK Innovation Co Ltd rose 1.5 per cent. LG Chem Ltd gained 4.6 per cent.

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South Korea's top web search operator Naver Corp climbed 5.9 per cent to a three-week high of 510,000 won. Oh Dong-hwan, an analyst at Samsung Securities said Naver tracked Wall Street where shares in internet sector improved overnight.

Foreigners were set to be net buyers, purchasing a net 53.2 billion won of KOSPI shares. On Wednesday, they snapped a 29-consecutive-session selling spree.

On the currency market, the South Korean won joined most regional peers by strengthening against the dollar.

The greenback lost ground as a surprise decline in US inflation in August eased expectations that the Fed would raise interest rates at its monetary policy meeting.

The won was up 0.4 per cent at 1,170.9 per dollar after touching a morning high of 1,169.3, the strongest intraday level since Aug. 11.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds were down 0.02 points at 109.48.