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Seoul: Stocks close steady as ex-dividend limits gains

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index closed nearly unchanged on Thursday as shares went ex-dividend, offsetting positive sentiment following a rally on Wall Street. The won rose while bond yields were barely changed.

According to the Korea Exchange, 40.51 points - equivalent to 2 per cent - were shaved off the benchmark index by the ex-dividend price adjustment.

The Kospi closed 0.43 points, or 0.02 per cent, higher at 2,028.44. Gains were also capped as weak China data raised concerns of slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy.

Earnings at China's industrial firms in November dropped for the first time in nearly three years, as slackening external and domestic demand left businesses facing more strain in 2019 in a sign of rising risks to the world's second-largest economy.

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There are not many issues that could improve the fundamentals amid rising concerns about global growth and major companies lowering their guidance, said Jeong Dai, an analyst with Meritz Securities.

The won was quoted at 1,120 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.48 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,125.4.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,120.47 per US dollar, up 0.28 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,102.35 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.54 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with gains. Japanese stocks rose 3.88 per cent.

The Kospi is down around 17.8 per cent so far this year, and down by 2.09 per cent in the previous 30 days.

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.

The trading volume during the session on the KOSPI index was 390,094,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 896, the number of advancing shares was 521.

Foreigners were net buyers of 241,840 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 5.07 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,053.55 per dollar on April 2, 2018 and low is 1,146.26 on Oct 11, 2018.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.01 points to 109.24 from their previous close at 109.25.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.92 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.807 per cent, barely changed from the previous day's 1.81 per cent.

REUTERS