RTTNews - The South Korean stock market is trading higher on Thursday, led by banks, on renewed buying by foreign investors after the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision on Wednesday to keep interest rates unchanged erased concerns over a monetary tightening.

In late morning trades, the benchmark Korea Composite Price Index, or KOSPI, is gaining 21.58 points or 1.58% to 1,384.87.

The South Korean market ended in positive territory on Wednesday, led by technology stocks and bargain hunting amid recovery hopes. The KOSPI ended at 1,364, representing a gain of 3.25 points, or 0.25%.

U.S. stocks closed mostly higher on Wednesday, although the major averages turned in a mixed performance, after the Federal Reserve announced it would keep interest rates unchanged. While the central bank noted some improvement in the economy and removed its warning about the possibility of deflation, many economists believe the historically low rates could remain for some time, leaving worries that the massive stimulus efforts could lead to inflation down the road.

Crude oil closed a choppy session modestly lower on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged. Investors also mulled over the Energy Department's weekly inventory report, which showed a drop in crude stocks but a rise in gasoline supplies. Light sweet crude for August delivery dropped to US$68.67 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down US$0.57 on the session.

In the currency market, the South Korean won is trading at 1,282.9 won to the U.S. dollar in late morning trades, up 0.6 won from Wednesday's close.

In the tech sector, market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is gaining 1%. Hynix Semiconductor, LG Display LCD and LG Electronics are trading higher in a range of 0.10%-2%.

In the banking space, Korea Exchange Bank, Woori Finance, Shinhan Financial and KB Financial are gaining in a range of 0.5%-2.5%.

Automakers are trading mixed. Hyundai Motor is trading slightly higher, while Kia Motors is trading lower and Ssangyong Motor is unchanged. Steel maker Hyundai Steel and Posco are up more than 1% each.

Telecom issue SK Telecom is unchanged while KT Corp. is trading slightly lower. Oil issue SK Holdings is down 0.5%, while S-Oil and energy stock KEPCO are up more than 1% each.

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