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Seoul: Stocks fall ahead of US jobs data; won hits over 2-year low

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares closed lower on Friday as the US Federal Reserve's comments dashed hopes of a rate cut in the near term, and as investors awaited the release of US employment data for cues. The won hit a more than two-year intraday low, while benchmark bond yields rose.

The United States is expected to have created 185,000 net new jobs last month, while the unemployment rate will likely remain steady at 3.8 per cent, according to a Reuters survey of economists.

South Korea's main KOSPI stock index fell 16.43 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 2,196.32. For the week, the benchmark index gained 0.78 per cent, snapping two straight weekly losses.

Foreigners were net buyers of 151.6 billion won worth of shares on the main board, extending their purchase to a fifth session.

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The won was quoted at 1,170.0 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.37 per cent lower than its previous close of 1,165.7, after hitting its weakest intraday level since January 2017. The currency fell 0.77 per cent on a weekly basis, after the previous week's 2.1 per cent drop.

The won was seen down due to Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell's hawkish comments and a weak Australian dollar on signs of economic slowdown, said Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,169.8 per US dollar, down 0.3 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,168.6 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.06 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with losses. Japanese stocks were closed for the Golden Week holidays and will resume trading on May 7.

The Kospi has risen 7.61 per cent so far this year, and rose 1.6 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.

Trading volume during the session on the KOSPI index was 609.80 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 887, the number of advancing shares was 336.

The won has lost 4.6 per cent against the US dollar this year.

In money and debt markets, June futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.02 point to 109.45, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.84 per cent.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 1.0 basis point to 1.741 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 1.6 basis points to 1.901 per cent.

REUTERS