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Seoul: Shares end nearly 4% higher as virus slows, oil recovers

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares closed nearly 4 per cent higher on Monday, recording their sharpest gain in over a week, as coronavirus-related deaths and new cases slowed and oil prices recovered.

The South Korean won strengthened, while the benchmark bond yield fell.

The Kospi ended up 66.44 points, or 3.85 per cent, at 1,791.88. The index has shed 18.46 per cent so far this year.

Risk-averse sentiment eased as investors embraced optimism on the fact that the coronavirus crisis may be close to reaching its peak, while a recovery of oil prices helped boost the risk appetite, said Seo Jung-hun, an analyst at Samsung Securities.

While South Korea reported 47 new cases on Monday, fewer than 50 for the first time since its peak on Feb 29, major European nations including France and Italy also saw a slowdown in deaths.

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In the United States, President Donald Trump expressed hope that the country was seeing a "levelling-off" of the crisis in some of the nation's hotspots. Separately, he also said that he would do "very substantial tariffs" if the oil price stays the way it is.

Foreigners were net sellers of 199 billion won (S$232.4 million) worth of shares, extending the selloff to the 23rd consecutive session which marked the longest since September 2015. They sold around 13.3 trillion won during the period. The won closed trading at 1,229.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.13 per cent higher than its previous close at 1,230.9. It has lost 5.9 per cent against the dollar so far this year.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,228.9 per dollar, up 0.5 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading, its one-month contract was quoted at 1,227.5.

The trading volume was 1,204.10 million shares. Of the total traded issues of 898, the number of advancing shares was 822.

In money and debt markets, June futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.11 point to 111.46.

The most liquid three-year South Korean treasury bond yield fell by 2.1 basis points to 1.045 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 1.3 basis points to 1.534 per cent. 

REUTERS

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