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Seoul: Shares end flat on profit-taking, hover near 8-month high

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares ended flat on Monday as investors booked profits, with the benchmark index hovering near an eight-month high, while latest exports data had a limited impact. The South Korean won and the benchmark bond yield fell.

South Korean exports fell again in the first 20 days of December, but a recovery in demand from China and stabilising chip prices offered signs that a year-long run of declines may be nearing its end.

Foreigners' buying of South Korean stocks faded and it seems like investors booked profits as the index hovered above 2,200 points, said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment.

The Seoul stock market's main Kospi fell 0.47 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 2,203.71. Rising as much as 5.5 per cent so far this month, the major index hit its highest intraday level since May 3 on Dec 17. It has since been hovering around the same level.

Foreigners were net buyers of 26.1 billion won (S$30.4 million) worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,164.3 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.32 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,160.6.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,163.5 per US dollar, down 0.4 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,162.1 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.06 per cent, after US stocks closed higher on Friday. Japanese stocks rose 0.02 per cent.

The Kospi has risen 7.97 per cent so far this year, and gained 3.1 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions.

The trading volume during the session in the Kospi index was 494.36 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 907, the number of advancing shares was 342.

The won has lost 4.2 per cent against the dollar so far this year.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.05 points to 110.48, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.53 per cent in late afternoon trade.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 1.4 basis points to 1.380 per cent in late afternoon trade, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 3.4 basis points to 1.642 per cent. 

REUTERS