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Seoul: Stocks rally at 6-year high as hopes on strong Q1 attract investors

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares stepped up to a near six-year high early on Wednesday as foreign investors' optimism over the local stock market grew on hopes of strong first-quarter earnings, while improving economic indicators also boosted sentiment.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.5 per cent at 2,206.84 points as of 0221 GMT, its highest level since May 3 of 2011.

"Overall first-quarter earnings and other economic indicators like South Korean exports are attracting investors more and more, supporting the index," said Cho Byung-hyun, a stock analyst at Yuanta Securities.

The Bank of Korea will release preliminary first-quarter growth data on Thursday and a Reuters poll showed the country's economic growth likely accelerated at a sharper pace in the first three months of the year than the previous quarter as exports and capital investment tracked a recovery in the global economy.

Mr Cho predicted that the Kospi could extend gains further, reaching as high as 2,350 points by the third quarter.

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Foreign investors were set to be net buyers for 5 consecutive sessions, purchasing 96.3 billion Korean won (S$118.8 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Advancing stocks far outnumbered declining ones by 544 to 231.

Screenmaker LG Display Co Ltd gained 1.1 per cent after it posted a record quarterly profit of 1.03 trillion won in the January-March period, beating market expectations on demand for large television panels.

Market heavyweight SK Hynix rose more than 2 per cent.

The South Korean won edged down as the traders eyed US President Donald Trump's tax reform policy scheduled for later in the global day.

The won stood at 1,126.4 against the US dollar, down 0.1 per cent versus Tuesday's close of 1,125.4.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.04 point to 109.39.


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