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Seoul: Stocks flat, erase early gains on sluggish Chinese markets; won up

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[SEOUL] South Korea's KOSPI stock index ended flat on Thursday, giving up early gains tracking declines in Chinese markets. The Korean won and bond yields rose. At 0631 GMT, the Kospi was down 1.68 points or 0.07 per cent at 2,307.35. China's benchmark SSEC and blue-chip CSI both tumbled over 1 per cent.

Steel shares including Moonbae Steel and Bookook Steel soared after US President Donald Trump permitted targeted relief from steel and aluminium quotas from countries including South Korea. Seoul's largest steelmaker Posco ended up 0.3 per cent.

Cosmetic and duty-free stocks exposed to China ended higher on expectations of increasing Chinese group tourists as Beijing lifts tourism bans in more Chinese cities. The won was quoted at 1,108.6 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.14 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,110.2.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,108.81 per US dollar, up 0.07 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,091.3 per dollar. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.34 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. Japanese stocks rose 0.09 per cent.

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The Kospi is down around 6.4 per cent so far this year, and up by 0.48 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 281,975,000 shares and, of the total 896 traded issues, the number of advancing shares was 420. Foreigners were net buyers of 219,561 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 3.98 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,053.55 per dollar on April 2 and the low is 1,140.4 on July 19. In money and debt markets, September futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.05 point to 108.69. The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.65 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.982 per cent, higher than the previous day's 1.95 per cent.

REUTERS