You are here

Seoul: Shares edge higher; won flat ahead of Yellen testimony


[SEOUL] South Korean shares hit a fresh 2-1/2 month high on Tuesday as fears eased that Greece would leave the euro zone, although gains were capped by a sharp drop in crude oil prices.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.32 per cent at 1,974.78 points as of 0215 GMT.

A government official in Greece said the country will present its reform plans to the euro zone by Tuesday, after missing the initial Monday deadline set forth as the condition to extend the country's financial rescue.

"EU officials said that as long as the reform plans are in line with long-term bailout objectives, it should not present a significant problem even if it missed the deadline," said Kim Yu-kyum, an economist at LIG Investment & Securities in a note.

Shares in Samsung SDI rallied 3.5 per cent after saying on Monday that it had agreed to buy the battery pack business of Canadian auto-parts maker Magna International for an undisclosed amount.

Hanjin Shipping surged 4.7 per cent to its highest intraday level in more than 2 years, with several brokerages tipping the logistics carrier to post improved earnings in the first quarter.

Offshore investors underpinned the main bourse, buying a net 77.6 billion won ($95.4 million) worth of KOSPI shares by late morning.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks edged up 0.25 per cent while the junior, tech-heavy KOSDAQ climbed 0.91 per cent.

The South Korean won was little changed against the dollar as investors awaited further clues on US monetary policy in congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

After dovish undertones were detected from the minutes of the Fed's latest policy meeting in January, investors will be seeking clearer hints from Yellen's message in regards to the timeline of the Fed's next rate hike.

The won was fetching 1,108.0 to the dollar as of 0215 GMT, compared to 1,108.7 at the end of Monday's session.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds added 6 basis points to trade at 108.47.