South Korean: Shares climb to 7-week high on China rate cut; won firmer

[SEOUL] South Korean shares rose on Monday to its highest intraday level in 7 weeks, buoyed by hopes of global growth after a surprise rate cut by the central bank of China, South Korea's largest trading partner.

China unexpectedly lowered its interest rate on Friday after the markets closed, its first cut in more than two years, in a bid to bolster flagging economic growth.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.67 per cent at 1,977.97 points as of 0155 GMT.

"The KOSPI could regain the 2,000 point plateau on expectations of more stimulus from major central banks as well as the start of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. that will help exporters," said Lee Kyung-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities.

Growth-sensitive shipbuilders and petrochemicals outperformed the broader market, as Hyundai Heavy Industries soared 5.6 per cent while LG Chem jumped 6.3 percent.

Hyundai Motor rose 3.9 per cent, supported by a rebound in the yen that quelled some of the recent worries of a weak Japanese currency undercutting the price competitiveness of South Korean automakers.

SK Hynix rose 1.5 per cent, with several brokerages tipping the chipmaker giant to post record profits in the fourth quarter.

The rally in blue-chip exporters pushed the benchmark KOSPI 200 index up 1.1 per cent, underpinning the main bourse.

Shares in Halla Visteon bucked trends to plunge more than 12 per cent after local media reported that US automotive parts maker Visteon Corp had signed a preliminary deal to sell all of its stake in the South Korean unit.

The South Korean won firmed on Monday, tracking a rebound in the Japanese yen and finding additional support from foreign fund inflows into domestic stock markets.

The local currency was quoted at 1,111.5 to the dollar as of 0155 GMT, compared to Friday's closing rate of 1,113.8.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds added 12 basis points to trade at 108.15.


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