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Seoul: Shares, won subdued ahead of holidays; BOK stands pat


[SEOUL] South Korean shares edged higher on Tuesday but market activity was subdued ahead of a long holiday break.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.2 per cent at 1,961.43 points as of 0215 GMT.

South Korean financial markets will be closed for the remainder of the week starting on Wednesday for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Aggressive bets were further discouraged after talks between Greece and euro zone finance ministers broke down on Monday, rekindling worries over the debt-saddled country's future in the single currency bloc.

Market reaction was largely muted after the Bank of Korea kept its policy interest rate unchanged as widely expected, as it continues to observe the effects of its previous rate cuts as well as monetary policy changes abroad.

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Hyundai Motor shares gained 2.5 per cent after the automakers said it planned to spend around US$1.8 billion by 2020 to expand its production capacity as well as invest in research and development of new vehicles.

Tong Yang Life Insurance Co was up 0.9 per cent after private equity firm Vogo Investment, Tong Yang's largest shareholder, said China's Anbang Insurance Group had agreed to buy a controlling stake worth around US$1 billion.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of large-cap stocks was up 0.26 per cent while the junior, tech-heavy KOSDAQ fell 0.16 percent.

The South Korean won drifted in morning trade, with investors waiting for a news conference by Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol for further clues on the policy outlook.

"Market direction will be guided by the Bank of Korea's stance in regards to the flurry of policy easing around the globe that is triggering a currency war," said Hong Seok-chan, an FX strategist at Daishin Economic Research Institute.

The won was fetching 1,102.0 to the dollar as of 0215 GMT, compared to 1,102.4 quoted at the end of Monday's session.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds added 6 basis points to trade at 108.33.


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