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Seoul: Stocks up slightly, won steady ahead of Trump speech

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares were up a touch on Tuesday, while the won was steady as investors waited on US President Donald Trump's speech to Congress later in the global day, where he is expected to seek a ramp up in government spending.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.3 per cent at 2,090.90 points as of 0210 GMT.

The won stood at 1,132.7 against the US dollar, steady compared with Monday's close of 1,133.7.

Shares of the companies linked to Lotte Group declined in the wake of the group's approval for a land swap with the government late on Monday that will enable authorities to deploy a controversial US missile defence system.

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Lotte Confectionery Co Ltd dropped 3.2 per cent while Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co Ltd fell 2.7 per cent.

"The Kospi is not showing much movement after it fell through the 2,100 level last week amid a lack of market momentum," said Cho Byung-Hyun, a stock analyst at Yuanta Securities.

Mr Cho added that though the market's current focus is very much on Mr Trump's speech, traders are also looking out for catalysts from a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 countries on March 17-18.

Besides uncertainty around the Trump administration's budget plan, there are also question marks on the pace and extent of rate rises by the Federal Reserve this year.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers for three consecutive sessions, offloading 25.2 billion Korean won (S$31.29 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 457 to 328.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.03 point to 109.51.

REUTERS

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