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Seoul: Stocks climb on foreign buying, won ends at 32-month high

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index gained and the Korean won ended at 32-month high on Thursday. It was the last trading day for the year. South Korea's financial markets will resume trading on Jan 2, an hour later than usual.

At 0632 GMT, the Kospi was up 30.82 points or 1.26 pe rcent at 2,467.49. The benchmark index rose on heavy foreign buying especially in the IT sector which is expected to lead South Korea's overall fourth-quarter earnings. The Kospi gained 1.1 percent for the week, its biggest weekly percentage gain in eight weeks. It fell slightly on a monthly basis.

The won was quoted at 1,070.5 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.34 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,074.1. The currency rose 0.9 per cent for the week, posting a third consecutive rising week. It was up 12.8 per cent on a yearly basis, its biggest annual gain since 2004.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,068.51 per US dollar, up 0.53 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,062.25 per US dollar.

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MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.84 percent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. Japanese stocks weakened 0.56 per cent.

The Kospi is up around 20.2 per cent so far this year, and down by 3.56 per cent in the previous 30 days. The Kospi posted its biggest yearly gain in seven years.

The current price-to-earnings ratio is 12.10, the dividend yield is 1.28 per cent and the market capitalisation is 1,242.04 trillion won (S$1.55 trillion).

The trading volume during the session on the Kospi index was 194,553,000 shares. Advancing shares numbered 541 out of the 880 issues traded.

Foreigners were net buyers of 179,693 million won worth of shares. The US dollar has fallen 11.42 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,070.1 per US dollar on Dec 28, 2017 and low is 1,211.8 on Jan 3, 2017.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.08 points to 107.91.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.66 percent, unchanged from its previous close, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond's yield was 2.132 per cent versus the previous day's 2.15 per cent.

REUTERS