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Seoul: Stocks rise on Hyundai Heavy rally, won edges up

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares strengthened early on Wednesday on a rise in global oil prices and strong gains in Hyundai Heavy shares, supporting the overall stock market.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.7 per cent at 1,980.92 points as of 0244 GMT.

The South Korean won edged up, standing at 1,165.9 to the US dollar, up 0.4 per cent compared to Tuesday's close of 1,170.6.

"A rally in Hyundai Heavy Industries shares is pushing the whole transportation equipment sector up," said Kim Ye Eun, a stock analyst at LIG Investment & Securities.

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Hyundai Heavy Industries said late on Tuesday it would split into four companies, with its non-shipbuilding businesses spun off to improve management efficiency and competitiveness.

Hyundai Heavy Industries shares rose as much as 13.3 per cent, its highest level since July 29, 2014. The transportation equipment sub-index gained nearly 2 per cent.

LIG's Ms Kim added that the market was sceptical of Kospi extending its gains since domestic and offshore politics remained uncertain, discouraging foreign investors from buying Seoul stocks.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye has retained a lawyer ahead of questioning by prosecutors investigating a scandal engulfing her administration. Ms Park's lawyer, Yoo Yeong Ha, told reporters that the questioning should be kept to a minimum and that he needed time to look into the case.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers, offloading 13.6 billion won (S$16.5 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, while domestic institutions bought a net 54.6 billion won worth.

Advancers led decliners by 570 to 236.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.09 point to 110.66.