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[SEOUL] South Korean shares climbed to a near two-week high on Friday as investors hunted for bargains and shipping stocks surged, but gains were capped by caution ahead of next month's US Federal Reserve meeting and Britain's referendum on whether to remain in the EU.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.2 per cent at 1,962.19points as of 0228 GMT.
On a weekly basis, local shares were expected to break four straight weeks of losses.
But Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at Dongbu Securities, said that the KOSPI's broad downward trend was still intact.
Offshore investors were poised to be buyers, purchasing 14.5 billion Korean won (S$16.9 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session.
Shares of shipping companies Hyundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd and Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd shot higher as negotiations with overseas ship owners on chartered freight has been making progress.
Hanjin Shipping extended its gains up to 25.9 per cent while Hyundai Merchant Marine was up 29.7 per cent.
Chipmaker SK Hynix Inc gained 4.3 per cent.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 446 to 353.
The South Korean won was slightly higher and was quoted at 1,179.2 per dollar, up 0.1 per cent compared to Thursday's close of 1,180.4.
The won was set to rise this week, snapping three consecutive weeks of falls.
June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.01 point to 110.26.