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Seoul: Stocks end lower on lacklustre GDP data

[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index closed weaker on Tuesday as data showed weakening exports had dented last year's annual pace of growth to a six-year low, while global growth concerns dimmed outlook. The Korean won and bond yields dropped.

The Bank of Korea's GDP report on Tuesday showed growth of 1 per cent in the fourth quarter, the fastest in three quarters as the economy rode a spurt in government stimulus. Seoul increased spending by 3.1 per cent on-quarter, the biggest rise in almost nine years and helped boost construction and capital investment.

The International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts on Monday and a survey showed increasing pessimism among business chiefs as trade tensions and uncertainty loomed over the world's biggest annual gathering of the rich and powerful.

China's economy cooled in the fourth quarter under pressure from faltering domestic demand and bruising U.S. tariffs, dragging 2018 growth to the lowest in nearly three decades and pressuring Beijing to roll out more stimulus to avert a sharper slowdown.

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At 0632 GMT, the Kospi ended down 6.84 points or 0.32 per cent at 2,117.77.

Shares of South Korean drugmaker Samsung BioLogics Co Ltd closed up 1.8 per cent after a South Korean court suspended the financial regulator's disciplinary action against the company for allegedly breaching accounting rules, an official at the Seoul Administrative Court said on Tuesday.

"The court concluded that an immediate sanction on the company could lead to irreparable damage when its violation of accounting standards has yet to be proven in court," the court official said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The won was quoted at 1,130.5 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.21 per cent weaker than its previous close at 1,128.1.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,131.03 per U.S. dollar, up 0.18 per cent from the previous session, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,114.15 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.86 per cent, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with gains. Japanese stocks weakened 0.47 per cent.

The Kospi rose 4.1 per cent so far this year, and climbed 1.11 per cent in the previous 30 days.

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 414,468,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 896, the number of advancing shares was 360.

Foreigners were net buyers of 125,859 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar climbed 1.59 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,113.81 per dollar on Jan. 11, 2019 and low is 1,133.4 on Jan. 21, 2019.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.07 points to 109.28.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.86 per cent, while the benchmark 3-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.804 per cent, lower than the previous day's 1.82 per cent.

REUTERS