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Seoul: Stocks end flat as investors await US stimulus details, Powell remarks


[SEOUL] South Korean shares ended flat in range-bound trading on Thursday, as investors took a wait-and-see stance ahead of the unveiling of US stimulus details and the Federal Reserve (Fed) chair Jerome Powell's remarks. The won weakened, but the benchmark bond yield rose.

The benchmark Kospi closed up 1.64 points or 0.05 per cent at 3,149.93, after gaining 0.72 per cent in the previous session.

US President-elect Joe Biden is due to unveil a Covid-19 relief plan costing "trillions" of dollars later in the day.

"Any guidance on Fed's tapering will be closely watched from Powell's remarks, while the size of US stimulus may impact the market if it exceeds expectations," said Noh Dong-kil, analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

Major heavyweights traded mixed: Chip giant Samsung Electronics ended flat, while its peer SK Hynix fell 1.9 per cent. LG Chem and Naver rose 1 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

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South Korea's central bank is expected to keep interest rates steady when it meets on Friday and throughout 2021, as stabilising economic conditions allow policymakers to stay on the sidelines for now.

Foreigners were net buyers of 672.1 billion won (S$811.6 million) worth of shares on the main board.

The won ended at 1,098.0 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.26 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,095.1.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,098.4 per dollar, down 0.1 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,097.3.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.05 point to 111.53.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 0.5 basis point to 0.984 per cent.


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