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Positive investor sentiment lifts Seoul stocks

Mar 13,2018
Korean stocks ended higher Monday as reports of strong U.S. job numbers boosted investor sentiment. The Korean won appreciated to hit a six-week high against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi rose 24.67 points, or 1 percent, to close at 2,484.12. Trade volume was moderate at 6.46 trillion won ($6.06 billion).

The main index marked its highest point since it finished at 2,491.75 on Feb. 5.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February, the biggest monthly gain since July 2016. Lower than expected wage gains also helped cool concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise interest rates at a speedy pace. Optimistic job numbers combined with signs of potential easing of U.S.-North Korea tensions helped lift oil prices and Asian shares.

Foreigners and institutions led the uptick, scooping up a net 197.7 billion won and 96.8 billion won worth of local stocks each, while individuals offloaded 291.7 billion won.

Bank shares were bullish with Hana Financial Group, a leading banking group, jumping 4.78 percent to 49,350 won and Shinhan Financial Group advancing 1.66 percent to 46,000 won.

LG Electronics, the second-largest home appliances maker, rose 0.46 percent to end at 109,500 won and SK Hynix, a major chipmaker, was up 1.92 percent to 84,900 won.

Samsung Electronics, the top cap, stayed flat at 2,487,000 won.

Other key shares also remained in positive terrain, with Kepco, the sole electric power provider, gaining 1.85 percent to 33,100 won and top steelmaker Posco adding 2.32 percent to 353,000 won.

The secondary Kosdaq also gained 18.47 points, or 2.13 percent, to 884.27. The 1.6 percent jump in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index and strong semiconductor shares weighed on the tech-heavy market’s rise.

Foreigners and institutions were net buyers, purchasing a net 94 billion won and 214.5 billion won each, while individuals offloaded a net 284.4 billion won as net sellers.

By sector, pharmaceuticals and semiconductors led the gains, each climbing 3.3 percent and 1.7 percent.

The local currency fell 4.6 won to close at 1,065.2 won against the U.S. dollar, its lowest since the won-dollar rate recorded 1,063.9 won on Jan. 26.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed sharply lower. The yield on three-year government bonds gained 1.2 basis points to 2.31 percent, and the return on the 10-year bonds added 1.5 basis points to 2.76 percent.

BY KIM EUN-JIN, YONHAP [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]