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Seoul: Stocks end firmer on US-China trade talks; won rises

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index closed higher on Friday as reports over Sino-US trade talks boosted investor sentiment. The South Korean won edged up, while bond yields also rose.

The benchmark index rebounded after hitting a two-year low earlier in the session over concerns of an economic slowdown.

A sharp drop in Chinese economic growth will hit the profit of US firms, but sales by Apple Inc and other American companies should recover once Washington strikes a trade deal with Beijing, a senior White House adviser said on Thursday.

China's services sector extended its solid expansion in December, offering some cushion for the slowing economy, a private survey showed on Friday. China and the United States will hold vice ministerial level trade talks in Beijing on Jan 7-8, China's commerce ministry said on Friday.

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At 0632 GMT, the KOSPI was up 16.53 points or 0.83 per cent at 2,010.23. For the week, the benchmark index dropped 1.5 per cent, posting its biggest weekly loss since Nov 23.

Shares of Hanjin Transportation Co Ltd, the shipping arm of Korean Air Lines Co Ltd's parent Hanjin Group, fell 8 per cent after a South Korean private equity fund acquired stake in Hanjin Transportation. Stake purchase dragged down the company's shares to their lowest since Nov 27, 2018.

The won was quoted at 1,124.5 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.28 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,127.7. The currency dipped 0.8 per cent, snapping two consecutive sessions of weekly gains.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,124.48 per US dollar, up 0.04 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,106.65 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.57 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with losses. Japanese stocks weakened 2.26 per cent.

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 403,262,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 898, the number of advancing shares was 461.

Foreigners were net sellers of 123,046 million won worth of shares.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.05 points to 109.31.

The South Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.87 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.798 per cent, higher than the previous session's 1.79 per cent.

REUTERS