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Seoul: Stocks rally to over 20-month high; won edges down


[SEOUL] South Korean shares looked set for a third straight session of gains early on Tuesday, notching an over 20-month intraday high as the market seemed to have shrugged off most of the risks at home for now, attracting more foreign investors.

Ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-Hye faced criticism on Monday over a defiant vow that the truth of her impeachment would be revealed, with the main opposition party urging prosecutors to investigate her quickly.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.5 per cent at 2,127.60 points as of 0226 GMT, the highest since May 27, 2015.

Kim Ye-Eun, a stock analyst at LIG Investment & Securities, said there could be some adjustments, but the index would gain further towards end-March as local exporters are likely to post strong first-quarter earnings.

"The Kospi will find more support if the Federal Reserve offers an optimistic outlook on the US economy at its meeting," added Ms Kim.

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The US central bank's March policy meeting will kick off later in the day.

Offshore investors were expected to be net buyers for seven consecutive sessions, purchasing 179.9 billion won (S$221.76 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

The index of major financial groups rose 1.2 per cent on expectations of a rate hike by the Fed. Hana Financial Group Inc and KB Financial Group Inc rose nearly 2 per cent each.

The South Korean won edged down as the greenback recovered ahead of the Fed meeting.

The won stood at 1,147.4 against the US dollar, down 0.3 per cent compared to Monday's close of 1,144.4.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds edged up 0.01 point to 109.35.


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