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Seoul: Stocks rise on Apple earnings; Fed rate decision awaited

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares rose 1 per cent on Wednesday, buoyed by Apple Inc's earnings, while investors awaited the US Federal Reserve's policy decision due later in the day and the outcome of high-level trade talks between the United States and China. The South Korean won closed flat, while bond yields rose.

Apple Inc reported sharp growth in its services business on Tuesday and chief executive Tim Cook said trade tensions between the United States and China were easing, helping boost the company's shares after hours even though iPhone sales dipped in the holiday shopping quarter for the first time.

The company's shares rose more than 5 per cent in after-hours trading.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Tuesday he expected to see significant progress in trade talks with Chinese officials this week and that US charges against telecommunications giant Huawei were a separate issue.

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The Kospi stock index closed up 22.84 points, or 1.05 per cent, at 2,206.20.

Shares of Posco, South Korea's largest steelmaker, jumped 6.2 per cent on reports of a surge in iron ore prices due to supply concerns after the Brazilian dam collapse.

The company's fourth-quarter operating profit rose 10 per cent on increased sales and higher profit margins, according to Reuters' calculations, meeting analysts' forecasts.

LG Display Co Ltd warned of weaker panel prices in the year ahead due to global economic uncertainty and US-China trade tensions, as it posted a jump in quarterly profit thanks to surging sales of wearable screens.

LG Chem Ltd posted a 52.9 per cent drop in fourth-quarter operating profit, but said its car battery business reached a break-even point.

The won was quoted at 1,116.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.02 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,116.5.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,116.26 per U.S. dollar, up 0.07 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,100.25 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.33 per cent, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with mild losses. Japanese stocks weakened 0.52 per cent.

The Kospi is up around 7.0 per cent so far this year, and up by 4.19 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 469,483,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 898, the number of advancing shares was 501.

Foreigners were net buyers of 305,907 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 0.27 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,113.81 per dollar on Jan 11 and low is 1,133.4 on Jan 21.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.02 points to 109.19.

The South Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.86 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.826 per cent, higher than the previous day's 1.82 per cent.

REUTERS