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Seoul: Stocks end lower on profit-taking; soft export data weighs

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi ended weaker on Friday as investors locked in profits after a series of strong gains, while tepid data weighed on the export-driven economy. The Korean won weakened, while the benchmark bond yield rose.

The Seoul stock market's main Kospi closed down 5.67 points or 0.27 per cent at 2,125.64 points. The Kospi gained 1.44 per cent for the week.

Some investors took profit after the index rose sharply for a third consecutive session until Thursday, said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment. South Korea's weak export data also added to the concerns over the economy, he added.

South Korea's exports for the first 20 days of this month shrank 10% from a year ago, weighed by fragile overseas sales of semiconductors - its key export item. During the period, semiconductor exports stumbled 24.3% from a year earlier.

South Korean President Moon Jae In sacked both of his top economic policy aides on Friday as Asia's fourth-largest economy cools sharply due to prolonged Sino-US trade friction.

Shares of Korean Air Lines and its parent Hanjin Kal closed down 2.6 per cent and 15.1 per cent, respectively, after Delta Air Lines' stake buy in the parent of its joint-venture partner. Hanjin Transportation also fell 8.1 per cent.

Foreigners were net buyers of 12.6 billion won (S$11.54 million) worth of shares on the main board, while local institutions were net sellers of 132 billion won worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,164.0 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.16 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,162.1. On a weekely basis, the currency strengthened 1.83 per cent against the US dollar, posting its biggest weekly percentage gain since mid-July 2017.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,163.5 per US dollar, down 0.4 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,162.1 per US dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.3 per cent, after US stocks closed up. Japanese stocks fell 0.95 per cent.

The Kospi rose 4.14 per cent so far this year, but lost 1.7 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 679.92 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 893, the number of advancing shares was 287.

The won lost 4.1 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 point to 110.58, while the 3-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.8 per cent.

The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 1.5 basis points to 1.435 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 2.4 basis points to 1.567 per cent.

REUTERS