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Seoul: Stocks end flat on easing Fed rate-cut hopes; G-20 in focus

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index was little changed on Wednesday after US Federal Reserve chief's remarks dashed investor expectations on imminent rate cut, while caution prevailed ahead of the G-20 summit. The South Korean won weakened modestly, while the benchmark bond yield rose.

The Seoul stock market's main Kospi closed up 0.20 points or 0.01 per cent at 2,121.84.

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said the US central bank is "insulated from short-term political pressures", and that its policymakers are wrestling with whether to cut interest rates as President Donald Trump has demanded. US stock indices dropped following Mr Powell's remarks. While investor bets on US rate cuts have reduced, the local markets didn't show clear direction as expectations and worries were mingled ahead of the G-20 summit, said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment.

*US President Donald Trump is slated to meet one-on-one with at least eight world leaders at the G-20 summit in Japan this week, including China's President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The G-20 summit will be held in the city of Osaka on June 27-29.

South Korean exports are expected to post their biggest fall in more than three years and their seventh straight month of declines in June as the US-China trade dispute hit global demand, a Reuters poll showed.

South Korean chipmakers rose after US Micron Technology said it expected demand for its chips to recover in the second half of 2019. SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics closed up 3.3 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively.

Shares of Nexon GT, an affiliate of South Korean gaming giant Nexon, stumbled 25 per cent after a media report said that Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju has decided to suspend sale of a controlling stake in NXC, the holding firm of Nexon.

Foreigners were net buyers of 17.4 billion won worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,156.6 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.03 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,156.2.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,156.0 per U.S. dollar, down 0.1 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,155.3 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.09 per cent, after US stocks dropped. Japanese stocks fell 0.51 per cent.

The Kospi has risen 3.96 per cent so far this year, and gained 2.1 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.

The trading volume during the session on the Kospi index was 722.82 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 892, the number of advancing shares was 294.

The won has lost 3.5 per cent against the US dollar so far this year.

In money and debt markets, September futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.05 points to 110.34, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.78 per cent.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 2.2 basis points to 1.499 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 3.0 basis points to 1.614 per cent. 

REUTERS