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Seoul: Stocks hit 2-month low on US political uncertainties; won flat

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index slumped on Wednesday over persisting political uncertainties in the United States as the market reopened after the Christmas holiday. The Korean won was flat while bond yields fell.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the partial shutdown of the federal government was going to last until his demand for funds to build a wall on the US-Mexico border is met.

Mr Trump on Tuesday expressed confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin amid worries over a weakening economy and a stock market slump, but repeated his criticism of the US Federal Reserve, saying it has raised interest rates too quickly.

Investors also were grappling with the federal government shutdown and reports that President Donald Trump privately discussed the possibility of firing the Fed chairman.

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At 0632 GMT, the Kospi closed down 27 points or 1.31 per cent at 2,028.01, hitting a near two-month low.

Shares of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction ended 9.9 per cent lower as the company's nuclear power plant business is hit by the government's nuclear phase-out policy.

The won was quoted at 1,125.4 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.02 per cent weaker from its previous close at 1,125.2.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,125.5 per US dollar, down 0.12 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,107.15 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 sharp losses. Japanese stocks rose 0.89 per cent.

The Kospi is down around 16.7 per cent so far this year, and down by 1.22 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 314,188,000 shares and, of the total 896 traded issues, the number of advancing shares was 128.

Foreigners were net buyers of 56,729 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 5.54 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 1,146.26 on Oct 11.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.1 point to 109.25.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.9 per cent, while the benchmark 3-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.807 per cent, lower than the previous day's 1.85 per cent.

REUTERS