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Seoul: Stocks rise for 4th day despite jailing of Samsung boss, won flat

[SEOUL] South Korean shares rose for a fourth straight session on Friday, largely shrugging off news that the billionaire head of Samsung Group had been jailed for five years for bribery, one of the toughest sentences ever meted out to a business leader.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) closed up 0.1 per cent at 2,378.51 points, its highest finish since Aug 8.

It gained 0.9 per cent for the week, largely as tensions between North Korea and the United States eased after flaring earlier in the month.

Samsung Electronics, the conglomerate's flagship, fell 1.1 per cent but ended off the day's lows hit shortly after the court announced the conviction and sentencing of Jay Y Lee.

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Some investors had worried that a jail term could leave a leadership vacuum at Samsung, which has over five dozen affiliate companies and assets of 363.2 trillion won (S$438.77 billion), and whose listed companies make up around 30 percent of the market value of the Kospi index.

But some analysts noted the company has been doing well despite the absence of Lee, who has been in detention since February.

Offshore investors turned to net sellers later in the sessions, unloading 29.6 billion won worth of Kospi shares.

The South Korean won ended flat as the investors awaited speeches from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi later on Friday at a central bankers' conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The won was quoted at 1,128.2 to the US dollar at the conclusion of onshore trade, little changed compared to Thursday's close of 1,127.9.

The currency gained 1.2 per cent for the week.