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[SEOUL] South Korean shares strengthened to a near three-week high early on Friday on foreign demand as North Korea-related risks simmered down while other investors turned their focus to France's presidential elections.
France will be holding a two-stage presidential election on April 23 and May 7.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.9 per cent at 2,168.61 points as of 0250 GMT, touching its highest level since April 3.
The South Korean won also edged up 0.1 per cent, standing at 1,138.7 against the US dollar.
Kim Sung-Hwan, a stock analyst at Bookook Securities said the Kospi is on the rise as its fundamental strength attracts investors.
"Market players will be paying close attention to the result of the French presidential election as past big global events like Brexit and US Presidential election all defied market expectations," Mr Kim said.
French centrist Emmanuel Macron is set to come out on top in the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday as far right leader Marine Le Pen fell further behind him in an Elabe poll published on Friday.
Offshore investors were set to be net buyers, purchasing 148.9 billion won (S$183 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, buttressing the index.
Advancers and decliners were almost even by 400 to 362.
Shares of South Korean steelmaker Posco rose nearly 2 per cent early on Friday after US President Donald Trump launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the US market.
Lotte Shopping rose more than 4 per cent while Lotte Confectionery climbed 3.1 per cent. For the week, the Kospi was set to mark its biggest weekly percentage gain, snapping three consecutive weeks of decline.
June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.04 point to 109.45.