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Seoul: Stocks near 1-month high on trade hopes, dovish Fed

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index rose on Friday as US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell's dovish comments cheered investors amid news trade talks between Washington and Beijing were moving to higher levels. The South Korean won rose while bonds fell.

Mr Powell on Thursday reiterated that the US central bank could be patient in approving any further rate increases as officials gauge whether the US economy will slow this year, as some in financial markets worry, or continue motoring ahead as the Fed itself expects.

US officials expect China's top trade negotiator may visit Washington this month, signalling that higher-level discussions will likely follow this week's talks with mid-level officials in Beijing as the world's two largest economies try to hammer out a deal to end a tit-for-tat tariff war.

The Kospi closed up 12.29 points or 0.60 per cent at 2,075.57 after hitting its highest level since Dec 19. For the week, the benchmark index jumped 3.2 per cent, snapping five consecutive weekly losses.

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Shares of Dexter Studios Co Ltd rose nearly 30 per cent after local media reported CJ ENM Co Ltd plans to buy Dexter Studios. CJ ENM said in a regulatory filing that it is not pursuing acquisition of Dexter Studios, but considering financial investment and other options to strengthen contents production capabilities.

The won was quoted at 1,116.4 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.17 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,118.3. The currency rose 0.7 per cent on week, its biggest weekly gain since Dec 21.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,116.71 per US dollar, up 0.01 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,100.15 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.26 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with gains. Japanese stocks rose 0.97 per cent.

The Kospi is up around 1.1 per cent so far this year, and up by 0.95 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 372,532,000 shares. Of the total traded issues of 898, the number of advancing shares was 534.

Foreigners were net buyers of 177,432 million won worth of shares.

The won's high for the year is 1,114.7 per dollar on Jan. 2 and the low is 1,130.05 on Jan. 3.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.03 points to 109.27.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.86 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.803 per cent, higher than the previous day's 1.80 per cent.

REUTERS