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Seoul: Stocks up led by tech giant Samsung Elec; won slips

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares climbed early on Friday as tech giant Samsung Electronics lifted the index with surprisingly upbeat earnings guidance.

The company said its fourth-quarter profit likely leapt 50 per cent from a year earlier to its highest level in more than three years, beating expectations on strong chip sales and a smartphone rebound.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.3 per cent at 2,048.54 points as of 0206 GMT.

Samsung Elec shares rose as much as 2.5 per cent in the earlier trade.

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"The index is likely to test as high as 2,080 level as of next week unless the US jobs report... arouses market fears that the Federal Reserve could speed up the pace of its rate rises," said Park Seok-Hyun, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities.

Offshore investors were set to be net buyers for eight straight sessions, purchasing 53.3 billion Korean won (S$64.08 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Chipmaker SK Hynix gained 2.9 per cent as the investors came in on hopes of strong fourth-quarter performance as high chip sales had propelled Samsung Elec's earnings surprise.

Automobile manufacturer Hyundai Motor was down nearly 2 per cent, the fall seen by analysts as a reaction to Trump's threats against Toyota.

In the main bourse, advancing issues were outnumbered declining ones by 410 to 352.

The South Korean won edged down 0.2 per cent after a sharp gain, standing at 1,188.9 to the US dollar, little changed compared to Thursday's close of 1,186.3.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds was steady at 109.72.

REUTERS

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