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Seoul: Stocks fall on trade spat; won rallies

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index weakened on Friday as Sino-US trade tensions escalated and led investors to move out of emerging markets. The won rallied while bond yields remained steady.

At 01:06 GMT, the Kospi was down 10.25 points or 0.44 per cent at 2,303.99, hitting its lowest intraday level since May 2017. Samsung BioLogics surged as much as 4.8 per cent on the market's open after Biogen said on Thursday it exercised its call option to purchase additional shares of a joint venture with Samsung BioLogics.

Shares of South Korean cement makers rose after the two Koreas agreed on Thursday to co-operate in modernising and connecting cross-border roads. Shares of Hyundai Cement jumped 19.5 per cent while Korea Cement gained 15.1 per cent.

Other North Korea-exposed stocks rose, including Namkwang Engineering & Construction, which climbed 12.6 per cent.

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The won was quoted at 1,120.5 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.33 per cent firmer from its previous close of 1,124.2, which was its lowest since Oct 2017.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,119.31 per US dollar, up 0.13 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,102.3 per US dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.02 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. Japanese stocks weakened 0.4 per cent.

The Kospi is down around 6.2 per cent so far this year, and down by 6.54 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. Trading volume during the session on the Kospi index was 119,259,000 shares and of the total 873 traded issues, the number of advancing shares was 280.

Foreigners were net sellers of 65,254 million won worth of shares. The US dollar has risen 4.96 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,053.55 per US dollar on April 2, 2018 and low is 1,125.17 on June 27, 2018.

In money and debt markets, September futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.03 points to 108.09. The Korean 3-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.65 per cent, while the benchmark 3-year Korean treasury bond yielded 2.113 per cent, barely changed from the previous day's 2.11 per cent.

REUTERS