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Seoul: Shares edge up as oil rebound spurs energy firms; won firmer

[SEOUL] South Korean shares edged up on Monday morning, supported by a sharp rebound in oil prices that broadly coincided with improved sentiment in global markets.

Wall Street posted its best three-day run since 2011 after the US Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the US economy and said it would take a "patient" approach in normalising interest rates.

"The market relief brought on by the Fed's statement last week may be further solidified by improved fundamentals," said Kang Hyun-gu, an economist at Taurus Investment & Securities.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.28 at 1,935.35 points as of 0200 GMT.

Energy firms led the advance, thanks to a rebound in oil prices. SK Innovation, South Korea's largest refiner, rallied 3.1 per cent while S-Oil climbed 1.8 per cent.

Korea Aerospace Industries soared 3 per cent after South Korea's arms procurement agency, under the guidance of the Ministry of National Defense, announced a tender for a home-grown fighter project worth 8.67 trillion won (US$7.89 billion).

Korea Gas Corp fell 1.8 per cent to a fresh low for the year after the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced a 5 per cent cut in gas utility rates, citing recent falls in energy prices.

South Korea cut its bullish growth forecasts for both this year and the next, according to an annual report by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, but sees conditions improving in 2015 as government stimulus measures and falling crude oil prices bolster domestic consumption.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.55 per cent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.28 per cent higher.

The South Korean won firmed against the dollar in early trade, as investors booked profits on the greenback's gains ahead of the holiday season and year-end.

The local currency was quoted at 1,098.0 to the dollar as of 0200 GMT, compared to Friday's closing rate of 1,102.0.

REUTERS