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Seoul: Stocks recover tracking China rebound

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index recovered from early falls to close higher on Friday, tracking a rebound in Chinese equities after regulators pledged steps aimed at calming markets and supporting struggling firms. The Korean won strengthened, while bond yields rose.

The Kospi closed 7.95 points, or 0.37 per cent, higher at 2,156.26 after declining 1.4 per cent earlier. For the week, it slipped 0.3 per cent, in its third straight weekly fall.

The Shanghai Composite index surged 2.5 per cent after China's securities regulator unveiled a series of measures to aid the country's struggling stock market. Earlier in the day, the index hit a near four-year low. The comments from regulators came ahead of the release of China's GDP (gross domestic product) figures, which showed the economy grew 6.5 per cent year on year in the third quarter, below expectations and its weakest pace since the first quarter of 2009. SK Innovation Co Ltd, owner of South Korea's top refiner SK Energy, slid 3.4 per cent. Crude oil prices were trading higher after two consecutive days of falls.

The won was quoted at 1,132.1 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.27 per cent firmer than its previous close of 1,135.2. The currency fell 0.1 per cent on a weekly basis. In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,131.86 per US dollar, up 0.5 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,113.4 per dollar.

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MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.31 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with losses. Japanese stocks weakened 0.56 per cent. The Kospi is down around 12.9 per cent so far this year, and down by 6.89 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 343,437,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 897, the number of advancing shares was 395.

Foreigners were net sellers of 171,758 million won worth of shares. The US dollar has risen 6.14 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 1,146.26 on Oct 11, 2018.

In money and debt markets, December futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.06 points to 108.51. The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.69 per cent, while the benchmark 3-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.992 per cent, higher than the previous day's 1.98 per cent.

REUTERS