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Seoul: Stocks end higher on dovish Fed, won flat

[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index ended higher on Wednesday, after US Federal Reserve reaffirmed its dovish stance. The Korean won was steady against the US dollar, while the benchmark bond yield fell.

The Seoul stock market's main index added 8.19 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 2,234.79 points.

The Federal Reserve is in no rush to make a judgment about further changes to interest rates, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told US lawmakers on Tuesday as he spelled out the central bank's approach to an economy that is likely slowing.

South Korea's central bank is broadly expected to keep its policy rate unchanged at its meeting on Thursday.

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Shares of Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis added 5.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively, after US activist investor Elliott Management demanded higher dividend payout for the two companies.

Foreigners were net sellers of 58.8 billion won (S$71 million) worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,119.1 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.04 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,118.6.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,119.1 per US dollar, down 0.4 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,117.2 per US dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.01 per cent, after US stocks edged lower in choppy sessions. Japanese stocks rose 0.50 per cent.

The Kospi has risen 9.49 per cent so far this year, and rose 7.9 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 cap is 1,242.04 trillion won.

The trading volume during the session on the Kospi index was 296.43 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 897, the number of advancing shares was 498.

The won has lost 0.3 per cent against the US dollar this year.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.01 point to 109.23, while the three month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.89 per cent.

The most liquid three year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 0.6 basis point to 1.811 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 1.6 basis points to 1.988 per cent.

REUTERS