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Seoul: Stocks end firmer on China data; tariff anxiety caps gains

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares ended higher on Tuesday after data showed that China's consumer inflation climbed to an eight-year peak, but concerns about a tariff deadline curbed gains. The South Korean won weakened, while the benchmark bond yield was unchanged.

Sentiment got a boost after data showed China's consumer prices in November rose at its the fastest pace seen since January 2012, but factory-gate prices remained in the red, adding to uncertainty over whether the manufacturing sector is bottoming out as trade risks persist.

Though the economic index was not bad, investors remained cautious ahead of big events such as the tariffs deadline and the UK election, said Park Sang-hyun, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.

Market uncertainty ahead of the tariff deadline was reinforced by comments from US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Monday that while President Donald Trump did not want to implement tariffs, he did want to see "movement" from China.

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China said on Monday it hoped to make a trade deal with the United States as soon as possible, amid intense discussions before fresh US tariffs on Chinese imports are due to kick in on Dec 15.

The Seoul stock market's main KOSPI ended up 9.35 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 2,098.00.

Foreigners were net sellers of 18.4 billion won (S$21.1 million) worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,191.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.12 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,189.9.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,191.1 per US dollar, down 0.1 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,190.2 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.11 per cent, after US stocks slipped overnight. Japanese stocks fell 0.09 per cent.

The KOSPI advanced 2.79 per cent so far this year, but lost 0.2 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions.

The trading volume during the session in the KOSPI index was 491.90 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 907, the number of advancing shares was 444.

The won lost 6.3 per cent against the dollar so far this year.

In money and debt markets, December futures on three-year treasury bonds dipped 0.01 point to 110.41, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.53 per cent in late-afternoon trade.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 0.7 basis point to 1.407 per cent in late afternoon trade, while the benchmark 10-year yield was flat at 1.669 per cent. 

REUTERS