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Seoul: Stocks gain as trade deal optimism outweighs ex-div adjustment

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares followed Wall Street to end higher on Friday, as losses from stocks trading ex-dividend was outweighed by a report of robust US online holiday sales and optimism over a US-China trade deal. The Korean won was little changed, while the benchmark bond yield rose.

In a yearly event, 46.0 points - equivalent to 2.09 per cent - were shaved off the benchmark index by the ex-dividend price adjustment, according to the Korea Exchange.

The Seoul stock market's main Kospi ended up 6.28 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 2,204.21. Earlier in the session, the index rose as much as 0.8 per cent to touch its highest since May 2.

Sentiment was boosted after Beijing said on Thursday it was in close contact with Washington about an initial trade agreement, shortly after US President Donald Trump talked up a signing ceremony for the recently struck Phase 1 trade deal.

In addition to trade hopes, the report on strong holiday sales from the US also supported risk appetite, said Noh Dong-kil, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

US shoppers spent more online during this year's holiday shopping season, a report by Mastercard Inc showed on Wednesday, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high.

Overnight, the Nasdaq crossed the 9,000-point mark for the first time as all three major Wall Street indices posted record closing highs boosted by optimism over US-China trade relations and gains in shares of Amazon.com.

Foreigners were net buyers of 55.9 billion won (S$65.3 million) worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,161.5 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.03 per cent higher than its previous close at 1,161.8.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,161.0 per US dollar, steady from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,159.2 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.66 per cent. Japanese stocks fell 0.36 per cent.

The Kospi has risen 7.99 per cent so far this year, and gained 3.6 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions.

The trading volume during the session in the Kospi index was 482.65 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 909, the number of advancing shares was 416.

The won has lost 3.9 per cent against the dollar so far this year.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.04 point to 110.50, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.53 per cent in late afternoon trade.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 0.2 basis points to 1.370 per cent in late afternoon trade, while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 4.1 basis points to 1.685 per cent.

REUTERS