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Seoul: Shares, won rise as oil prices jump; eyes on Fed

[SEOUL] South Korean shares rose on Monday after oil prices jumped, but trade was cautious with investors focused on the US Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan meetings this week.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 1 per cent at 1,898.28 points as of 0217 GMT.

Kang Hyun-gie, a stock analyst at Dongbu Securities, said much of the volatility has been driven by oil prices, which many investors see as a barometer for how well the global economy is doing.

"With crude having jumped 9 per cent over the weekend, markets will flow back into a risk-on mood," he said, noting fourth-quarter earnings season is looming near horizon.

Electricity & Gas and Construction counters led gainers on the main board which outnumbered losers by 3-to-1.

Shares in Korea Electric Power Corp and SK Gas Ltd rose 3 per cent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

GS Engineering & Construction Corp gained 4.6 per cent while Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd was up 1.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, shares in Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd fell 10 percent on poor earnings outlook.

Foreign investors sold a net 33.5 billion won (S$40 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session.

The South Korean won rose modestly ahead of monetary policy meeting by the Federal Reserve which will be held on January 26-27.

The won was quoted at 1,193.1 on the dollar, up 0.6 per cent from Friday's onshore close of 1,200.1.

"Although we do not expect any immediate action from the Fed or BOJ, we will be looking for hints on the pace of further rate hike or monetary easing policy stance," said Jeon Seung-ji, a foreign-exchange analyst at Samsung Futures.