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Seoul: Stocks end higher, but post biggest annual loss since 2008

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index closed up on Friday after Wall Street rebounded for a second day, but ended the year with its biggest annual loss since 2008, with a 17.3 per cent decline. The won and bond yields also rose.

The country's financial markets will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, and will resume trading on Wednesday one hour later than usual, at 0100 GMT.

South Korea's customs agency said on Friday the country's exports this year exceeded $600 billion to reach a record high as of today, becoming the seventh country to reach the US$600 billion export milestone.

The Kospi closed up 12.60 points or 0.62 per cent at 2,041.04.

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The benchmark index dipped 17.3 per cent so far this year, and by 2.7 per cent in the past 30 days. For the week, the Kospi index fell nearly 1 per cent.

Variables to watch out in January 2019 include economic data from major countries, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell's comments from the joint discussion with former Fed chairs, Trump-Powell meeting, US-China trade negotiations, US political shutdown, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year address and US-North Korea talks, said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co Ltd said on Friday its affiliate Hyundai Oilbank's IPO plan has been delayed and aims for a listing next year.

Shares of low budget carrier Air Busan Co Ltd , an affiliate of Asiana Airlines Inc, surged more than 20 per cent on their second day of trading, extending sharp gains from its first trading day.

The won was quoted at 1,115.7 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.39 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,120.

The won tumbled 4.1 per cent so far this year, while it rose by 0.5 per cent in the past 30 days. For the week, it was up 0.6 per cent.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,114.68 per U.S. dollar, up 0.39 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,097.15 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.83 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. Japanese stocks weakened 0.31 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 347,842,000 shares and, of the total 897 traded issues, the number of advancing shares was 577.

Foreigners were net buyers of 202,732 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 4.53 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,053.55 per dollar on April 2 and the low is 1,146.26 on Oct 11.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.03 points to 109.21 from the previous 109.24.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.92 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.819 per cent, higher than the previous day's 1.81 per cent.

REUTERS