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Seoul: Stocks edge higher; Sino-US talks in focus

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares closed slightly higher on Monday as a new round of trade talks between the world's top two economies began in Beijing, and ahead of a summit between the United States and North Korea scheduled later this month. The Korean won was steady against the dollar, while bond yields fell. The Kospi stock index closed 3.68 points, or 0.17 per cent, higher at 2,180.73.

A new round of trade talks between the United States and China began in Beijing on Monday after the most recent set of negotiations concluded in Washington last week without a deal and with the top US negotiator declaring that a lot more work needed to be done.

The won was quoted at 1,124.7 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.07 per cent weaker than its previous close at 1,123.9. In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,123.41 per US dollar, up 0.01 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,108.65 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.15 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. The Kospi is up around 6.7 per cent so far this year, and up by 5.68 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions. 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.

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The trading volume during the session on the Kospi index was 398.63 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 897, the number of advancing shares was 368. Foreigners were net sellers of 95.11 billion won worth of shares on the main board. The US dollar has risen 0.91 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,108.67 per dollar on Jan 31 and low is 1,133.4 on Jan 21.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.02 points to 109.37. The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.86 per cent, while the most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.784 per cent, lower than 1.788 per cent last quoted on the previous session.

REUTERS