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Seoul: Stocks climb to all-time high; won strenthens

[SEOUL] South Korean shares rose to a new peak early on Monday as gains on Wall Street boosted sentiment in the tech sector, but heavy profit-taking among domestic institutions trimmed some gains.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.2 per cent at 2,502.01 points as at 0300 GMT. The index climbed as high as 2,513.87 points as soon as trading began.

"Over the weekend, many expected the KOSPI to safely reach over 2,500 points following gains in U.S. stock markets, which made local institutions take profit," said Kim Ji-hyung, a stock analyst at Hanyang Securities.

Domestic institutions trimmed a net 306.7 billion won (S$372.6 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, while foreign investors purchased 75.3 billion won worth.

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Mr Kim added that investor appetite for local equities was still strong especially in market heavyweight tech shares such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.

Samsung Electronics rose 1.8 per cent and SK Hynix and climbed 2.9 per cent.

Shares in Lotte Corporation, Lotte Group's newly-created holding company , opened at 64,000 won per share on Monday as they were listed on South Korea's main bourse. Its flagship retailer Lotte Shopping opened down 8.3 per cent from its previous close before trading was suspended in late September.

Daewoo Shipbuilding also resumed trading, but plunged as much as 64.9 per cent to 15,700 won from its last traded price on July 14, 2016.

In currency markets, the South Korean won firmed as the greenback lost ground on widespread speculation that Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell, who is less hawkish, is likely to be the next Fed chair.

The won stood at 1,124.4 against the US dollar, up 0.5 per cent from Friday's close of 1,130.5.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.07 points to 107.87 after the Bank of Korea said it plans to buy government bonds in an auction this week as part of measures to stabilise the local bond market.