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Seoul: Stocks jump to record high, won at 2-week high

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares jumped to a record high early on Thursday and the won hit a two-week high as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's comments overnight boosted investor demand for riskier assets, overshadowing the Bank of Korea's move to hold rates.

Ms Yellen said on Wednesday that although US economy was healthy enough, monetary tightening would come gradually due to low inflation and neutral rates.

South Korea's central bank kept interest rates at a record low for a 13th straight month, as widely expected.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 1 per cent at 2,415.36 points as of 0144 GMT, its highest intraday level in history.

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The won was quoted at 1,139.3 against the US dollar, strongest since June 29. It was up 0.5 per cent versus Wednesday's close of 1,145.1 "Yellen's rather dovish comments have boosted market sentiment and stocks are showing big reactions," said Kim Ye-eun, a stock analyst at Cape Investment & Securities.

Analysts are looking for direction from BOK Governor Lee Ju-yeol's news conference at 11:20am (0220 GMT).

"Revising up the outlook itself can be a catalyst for additional gains, but if the governor takes a hawkish stance in his talks the Kospi may erase gains," Mr Kim said.

Offshore investors were set to be net buyers, purchasing 51.7 billion Korean won (S$62 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, buttressing the index.

The sub-index for securities shares rose over 2 per cent following the broader market's rally. Samsung Securities was up 2 per cent and NH Investment & Securities up 2.1 per cent.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix also gained 1.8 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively.

September futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.04 point to 109.19.

REUTERS

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