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Seoul: Stocks end lower; select aviation shares drag

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index ended lower on Wednesday as investors cautiously watched the development of US-China trade talks, while select aviation shares dragged. Both the South Korean won and the benchmark bond yield fell.

The Seoul stock market's main Kospi ended down 8.77 points or 0.41 per cent to 2,148.41 points.

The United States and China may be in the final weeks of discussions to hammer out a deal to ease their tit-for-tat tariff dispute, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Tuesday, but he cautioned that major issues remained.

Some of South Korea's airline stocks stumbled in the aftermath of crash of Boeing's 737 Max 8 jet in Ethiopia; shares of T'way Air closed down 4.3 per cent, while Korean Air Lines and JejuAir shrank 2.5 per cent and 3.4 per cent, respectively. 

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Shares of YG Entertaintment jumped 5.2 per cent after the agency cancelled contract with scandal-hit singer Seungri, who was charged for providing prostitutes to investors. Foreigners were net buyers of 102.0 billion won worth of shares on the mainboard.

The won was quoted at 1,132.6 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.25 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,129.8. In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,132.7 per US dollar, down 0.5 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,130.7 per dollar.

*MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.35 per cent, after US stocks were mixed. Japanese stocks fell 0.99 per cent.

The Kospi has risen 5.27 per cent so far this year, and rose 1.4 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 277.85 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 898, the number of advancing shares was 403.

The won has lost 1.5 per cent against the US dollar this year.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.03 point to 109.28, 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 1.4 basis points to 1.797 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 2.7 basis points to 1.966 per cent. 

REUTERS