Korean stock markets have entered into a wait-and-see phase ahead of a long weekend starting Thursday. With the Chuseok holiday and the National Foundation Day on Oct. 3 combining this year to create the six-day-long holiday, the local stock market is closed from Sept. 28 until Oct. 3.
Market analysts say the local stock market atmosphere has changed due to the downward pressures stemming from the U.S. Federal Reserve's recent hawkish Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting last week.
During the meeting, the FOMC voted unanimously to freeze the interest rate at the current level between 5.25 percent and 5.5 percent, while hinting at another interest rate hike later this year. The Fed is also expected to reduce the number of interest rate cuts next year, aiming to maintain control over inflation. As the market takes the Fed's more-hawkish-than-expected stance, both five-year and 10-year-maturity U.S. bond yields have reached 16-year highs, while oil prices increased further.
Reflecting such global market sentiment, the country's main benchmark KOSPI has also shown a decline for three consecutive sessions until Monday's closing. Specifically, both institutional investors and foreign investors net-sold local stocks worth 1.16 trillion won ($868 million) and 740 billion won, respectively, during the past week.
Market analysts view that value investing strategies are regaining relevance, as the interest rate issue has again emerged as a dominant variable of the markets.
"Value stocks are once again positioned as top industries that brought higher returns," Choi Yu-joon, an analyst at Shinhan Securities, pointed out. "As the ambiance of the market has changed rapidly, market conditions favoring value investing are likely to continue for the time being."
Kim Dae-jun, a strategy analyst at Korea Investment & Securities, highlights that financial and utilities stocks will gain market attention for their stability and dividend payouts.
"As the market is shaking and there is not much to expect from the overall index, differentiated movements along industries are expected. Industries with a high valuation burden due to a strong dollar and high interest rates may lose attention in the market, while defensive stocks that can secure profitability in any macro environment, such as banking and insurance, are emerging as the first choice. Telecommunications and utilities are also gaining momentum," Kim explained.
"Thus, it is necessary to pay attention to industries that have strong defenses and low vulnerability for the time being."
Yet some analysts, including Lee Kyoung-min, a prominent analyst from Daishin Securities, highlight that the semiconductor, automotive and machinery industries will remain strong, as Korean businesses' fundamentals are solid.
"Despite the Fed's announcement, it is not likely that the KOSPI will enter into a downward trend, given that economic momentum is getting stronger based on solid employment, the factor that was absent during last year's interest hike period," Lee said.
"If the KOSPI index continues its correction phase below 2,550 points, overweight strategies will be effective. With that has become visible in September, we maintain interest in the semiconductor, automotive and machinery industries, which are seeing upward revisions in performance forecasts and improving supply and demand from foreigners," he said.
Meanwhile, stocks of consumer goods are also expected to trend upward, as China enters the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays from Sept. 29 to Oct. 6. The forecast is gaining strength, given that the Chinese government allowed the resumption of tour groups to Korea for the first time in six years last month. Analysts view that stocks related to China's consumption, such as consumer goods stocks, could benefit from their long holiday season.