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Seoul: Stocks roar back on strong Chinese trade data

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index roared back on Thursday, erasing its early losses, driven by solid trade figures from neighbouring China. The South Korean won and bond yields fell.

The major index closed up 24.37 points or 1.11 per cent at 2,225.85, climbing for a fourth straight session.

In early trading, Kospi retreated on institutions' selloff but it began to tick up following the bullish trade data from China, said Lee Kyoung-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities.

China's January dollar-denominated exports rose 9.1 per cent from a year earlier, while imports dropped 1.5 per cent, both beating analysts' expectations, official data showed on Thursday.

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While US-China trade talks are in focus, US President Donald Trump is considering a 60-day extension on the March 1 deadline for higher tariffs on Chinese imports, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

The biggest Kospi stock, Samsung Electronics, added 2.8 per cent, reaching its highest level since Sept 27, last year.

The won was quoted at 1,125.1 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.3 per cent weaker than its previous close at 1,121.7.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,125.34 per US dollar, down 0.07 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,108.5 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.06 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. Japanese stocks weakened 0.02 per cent.

The Kospi is up around 7.9 per cent so far this year, and up by 8.55 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions. 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 553.21 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 895, the number of advancing shares was 445. Foreigners were net sellers of 51.07 billion won worth of shares on the main board.

The US dollar has risen 1.08 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,108.67 per dollar on Jan 31 and the low is 1,133.4 on Jan 21. In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.01 points to 109.28. The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.86 per cent, while the most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.799 per cent, lower than 1.802 per cent last quoted on the previous session. 

REUTERS