South Korean stocks opened sharply lower Wednesday on renewed fears over further sharp rate hikes after the Fed chief's hawkish comments.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index was down 28.76 points, or 1.17 percent, to 2,434.59 in the first 15 minutes of trading.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell cautioned Tuesday that "The ultimate level of interest rates is likely to be higher than previously anticipated," considering that the latest economic data suggests inflation is continuing.
His speech came as the market generally has expected the Fed to slow down its pace of rate increases.
The Fed raised rates by 25 basis points last month after a 50 basis point increase in December, on top of a series of three-quarter point hikes.
US stocks fell sharply. The major three indices on Wall Street fell over 1 percent overnight.
In Seoul, shares traded lower across the board.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 0.82 percent, and smaller rival SK hynix dipped 1.46 percent.
Major chemical firm LG Chem fell 2.7 percent, while top automaker Hyundai Motor inched up 0.29 percent and tech firm LG Electronics advanced 3.58 percent.
Some financial stocks were trading higher.
Shinhan Financial added 0.82 percent, and Woori Financial gained 0.25 percent.
The local currency was changing hands at 1,317.2 won against the greenback as of 9:15 a.m., down 17.8 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)