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Seoul: Stocks hit over 17-month closing low on growth worries; won down

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index closed down on Wednesday, hitting its lowest close since May 2, 2017 after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its growth forecast for the country. The South Korean won erased gains and closed lower, a day after US President Donald Trump criticised the Federal Reserve on raising rates too fast. South Korean bond yields also fell.

Mr Trump on Tuesday again criticised the Federal Reserve, telling reporters the central bank is going too fast in raising rates when inflation is minimal and government data points to a strong economy. Trump told the reporters that he doesn't "think it's necessary to go as fast". At 06.32 GMT, the Kospi ended down 25.21 points or 1.12 per cent at 2,228.62, marking its seventh straight session of fall, the longest since Sept 2017.

South Korean shares exposed to North Korea plunged on growing uncertainties after Mr Trump said his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be held after US congressional elections on Nov 6, which is later than expected by some analysts. Hyundai Elevator, down 17.9 per cent and Hyundai Rotem, down 14.9 per cent, led the losses.

The won was quoted at 1,133.8 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.1 per cent weaker than its previous close of 1,132.7. The currency recorded its sixth consecutive session of loss.

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In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,133.51 per US dollar, down 0.21 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,116.5 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.24 per cent after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with mild losses. Japanese stocks rose 0.16 per cent. The Kospi is down around 8.7 per cent so far this year, and down by 0.71 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 348,671,000 shares, and of the total traded issues of 897, the number of advancing shares was 107. Foreigners were net sellers of 229,492 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 6.3 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,053.55 per dollar on April 2 2018 and low is 1,140.4 on July 19 2018. In money and debt markets, December futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.09 points to 108.21. The South Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.65 per cent while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 2.061 per cent, lower than the previous day's 2.09 per cent.

REUTERS