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Seoul: Stocks dip as US-North Korea talks delayed; won flat

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index fell on Wednesday after top US diplomat Pompeo's meeting with North Koreans was reportedly postponed. The Korean won edged higher against the US dollar while bond yields fell.

A meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials set for Thursday in New York has been postponed and will be rescheduled "when our respective schedules permit," the US State Department said on Wednesday.

While the Democrats won control of the US House of Representatives, "the impact on Asia markets arising from the US mid-term elections is not clear cut", Eugene Leow, Rates Strategist, DBS, said in a note.

Oanda Asia-Pacific Head of Trading Stephen Innes in a report sees a "very muddled outlook for Asia", adding that he does not expect any significant fireworks in Asia until the "next escalation or de-escalation of US-China Trade risk."

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At 0632 GMT, the KOSPI ended down 10.93 points or 0.52 per cent at 2,078.69.

Shares of South Korean securities firms jumped during the day as the country's top financial regulator says it is about time to consider abolishing the market's securities transaction tax; Mirae Asset Daewoo closed up 1.6 per cent.

South Korean respiratory system protection mask producers surge as the government issues an ultra-fine dust advisory to warn of rising pollution; Monalisa Co Ltd ended up 16.5 per cent.

The won was quoted at 1,123.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.04 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,123.8.

A South Korean central bank board member said on Wednesday the won's likely weakening amid the slowing global economy could push up inflation but called for caution in dealing with monetary policy.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,122.57 per US dollar, down 0.15 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,104.45 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.21 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with gains. Japanese stocks weakened 0.28 per cent.

The Kospi is down around 15.3 per cent so far this year, and down by 9.50 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 471,029,000 shares, and of the total traded issues of 898, the number of advancing shares was 254.

** Foreigners were net sellers of 60,194 million won worth of shares.

** The U.S dollar has risen 5.27 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 October 11 2018.

** In money and debt markets, December futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.09 points to 108.67.

** The Korean 3-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.7 per cent while the benchmark 3-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.963 per cent, lower than the previous day's 1.98 per cent.

REUTERS