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Seoul: Stocks gain on strong US housing data

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[SEOUL] South Korea's KOSPI stock index rose on Friday after closing lower in the previous session, as solid US economic index offered a respite from the prolonged trade friction between the United States and China. Meanwhile, the Korean won and the benchmark bond yield rose.

US housing starts increased more than expected in April and activity in the prior month was stronger than initially thought, suggesting declining mortgage rates were providing some support to the struggling housing market.

As of 0145 GMT, the Seoul stock market's main KOSPI index rose 9.88 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 2,077.57.

Foreigners were net sellers of 89.1 billion won (S$135.9 million) worth of shares on the main board.

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The KOSPI has risen 1.79 per cent so far this year, and fell 5.0 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 219.95 million shares, and of the total traded issues of 890, the number of advancing shares was 524.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.26 per cent, after US stocks rose. Japanese stocks rose 1.16 per cent.

The won was quoted at 1,190.5 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.08 per cent higher than its previous close at 1,191.5, after hitting its fresh low in 28 months at 1192.8 per US dollar.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,190.7 per US dollar, up 0.1 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,189.2 per US dollar.

The won has lost 6.3 per cent against the U.S dollar this year so far.

In money and debt markets, June futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.04 points to 109.65, while the 3-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.84 per cent.

The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 1.1 basis points to 1.686 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 2.0 basis points to 1.840 per cent.

REUTERS