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Seoul: Shares up as higher oil boosts energy, shipyard firms; won up

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares rose on Thursday morning as a jump in oil prices and minutes of the Federal Reserve's January meeting suggesting policymakers won't rush into more rate hikes helped improve sentiment.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 1 per cent at 1,903.50 points at 0145 GMT. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by 39 to 10.

Oil prices rose after Iran voiced support for Russia-Saudi-led move to freeze production to deal with the supply glut.

"Recovering oil prices have set the stage for an accelerated rebound in global stocks, while minutes from the FOMC supported the mood," said Rhoo Yong-seok, a stock analyst at Hyundai Securities.

Minutes of the Fed's January policy meeting showed that policymakers worried about tighter global financial conditions hitting the US economy and considered changing their planned path of interest rate hikes in 2016.

Foreign investors purchased a net 10 billion Korean won (S$11.5 million) worth of KOSPI shares by late morning.

Shipyard and energy counters outperformed. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering gained 1.8 per cent and SK Innovation, South Korea's largest refiner, advanced 2.5 per cent.

Brokerage and medical stocks also supported the broader market, with Hyundai Securities rising 4.7 per cent and Hanmi Pharm jumping 4.9 per cent.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.9 per cent, while the junior KOSDAQ added 2.1 per cent.

The South Korean won stood firm against the dollar as the greenback slid after the Fed minutes backed expectations for slower US interest rate hikes.

The local currency was quoted at 1,225.1 per dollar, up 0.2 per cent from the previous close of 1,227.1.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.05 points at 110.32.


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