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Seoul: Shares, won up on hopes export slump is easing

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[SEOUL] Seoul shares were up at midday Thursday as concerns over the state of the global economy eased slightly based on economic indicators unveiled in South Korea and China early in the day.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.9 per cent at 1,980.86 points as of 0231 GMT. Gainers outnumbered losers on the main board by 2 to 1.

South Korean exports in September fell for a ninth consecutive month on-year, but by less than expected. Other data showed signs of a pick-up in domestic demand. "Considering South Korean and Chinese economic indicators today, we can't say the overall economy is absolutely weak or strong," said Rhoo Yong-seok, an analyst at Hyundai Securities. "Investors in stock markets were excessively focused on global economy growth, particularly on China, after Fed chief's remark, but actual data seemed to be not too bad compared to initial thought, that's why today's markets rebounded." In mid-September, the US Federal Reserve held off raising rates for the first time in almost a decade, partly due to worries about China's economy.

Naver Corp rose 5.7 per cent on expectations its earnings for June-September will be higher than in March-May.

Market bellwether Hyundai Motor Co Ltd gained 1.8 per cent and steelmaker Posco was up 2.7 per cent.

Foreigners were net sellers early in the session but then changed course, purchasing a net 11.2 billion won (S$13.5 million) of main board shares as of 0231 GMT.

Meanwhile, the South Korean won gained against the dollar on improved sentiment as the domestic stock market gained following rises in Wall Street.

The won was up 0.4 per cent at 1,180.1 per dollar.

China markets were closed for a holiday, but private surveys showed that factory activity fell to a more than 6-year low in September while growth in the services sector came close to stalling, private surveys showed. "Chinese economic indicators were factors of volatile movement temporarily, but they seemed not to affect the currency market," said Yuna Park, a foreign-exchange analyst at Dongbu Securities.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds were down 0.11 points at 109.83.

REUTERS