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Seoul: Stocks rise on bargain hunting after Tuesday's sharp drop

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares gained on Wednesday, as investors picked up beaten-down stocks after the index fell by the most in more than a year in the previous session on fears over the fast-spreading coronavirus. The South Korean won was little changed, while the benchmark bond yield fell.

The death toll from a new coronavirus in China rose sharply to 132 on Wednesday with nearly 1,500 new cases, as Japan said it flew citizens out of Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus.

The Seoul stock market's main Kospi index ended up 8.56 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 2,185.28. It declined 3.1 per cent on Tuesday, its biggest one-day fall since October 2018.

Investors purchased stocks that suffered excessive falls in the previous session, said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Financial investment. Still, volatility would remain high due to persisting worries over the virus, he added.

South Korea's exports are expected to fall at a faster pace in January, mainly due to fewer working days around the Chinese New Year holiday and amid concerns the new coronavirus may weigh on a fragile economic recovery, a Reuters poll showed.

Foreigners were net buyers of 50.8 billion won (S$58.6 million) worth of shares on the main board, while individual investors posted net buying of 372.4 billion won worth of Kospi stocks.

The won was quoted at 1,177.2 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.04 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,176.7.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,177.1 per US dollar, down 0.1 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,176.3 per US dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.57 per cent, after US stocks firmed overnight. Japanese stocks rose 0.71 per cent.

The Kospi is down 0.56 per cent so far this year, but gained 3.8 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions.

The trading volume during the session in the Kospi index was 681.56 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 908, the number of advancing shares was 516.

The won has lost 1.8 per cent against the dollar so far this year.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.08 points to 110.67, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.46 per cent in late afternoon trade.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 2.0 basis points to 1.333 per cent in late afternoon trade, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 1.7 basis points to 1.586 per cent.

REUTERS