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Seoul: Stocks shrink on profit taking, feeble data

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index fell on Friday as investors creamed off profit after four straight sessions of gains, while risk appetite was dented by weak data from the United States and China. The South Korean won and bond yields fell.

The index closed down 29.76 points or 1.34 per cent at 2,196.09, after a more than 1 per cent rise on Thursday. For the week, it added 0.9 per cent, snapping losses a week earlier.

US retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December as receipts fell across the board, raising fresh worries about the strength of the world's top economy. China's factory-gate inflation slowed for a seventh straight month in January to its weakest pace since September 2016, raising concerns the world's second-biggest economy may see the return of deflation as domestic demand cools. Shares of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Holdings jumped 20.9 per cent as its shipbuilding unit Hanjin Heavy agreed with Philippine banks on debt restructuring regarding its shipyard in the Philippines.

The won was quoted at 1,128.7 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.32 per cent weaker than its previous close at 1,125.1. The currency shed 0.4 per cent against the dollar on a weekly basis, marking a second straight weekly loss.

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In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,128.46 per US dollar, down 0.27 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,113.55 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 1.21 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild losses. Japanese stocks weakened 1.13 per cent.

The Kospi is up around 9.1 per cent so far this year, and up by 9.73 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 395.65 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 896, the number of advancing shares was 273. Foreigners were net sellers of 178.81 billion won worth of shares on the main board.

The US dollar has risen 1.36 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,108.67 per dollar on Jan 31, 2019 and low is 1,133.4 on Jan 21, 2019.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.06 point to 109.35.

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 1.779 per cent, lower than 1.795 per cent last quoted on the previous session.

REUTERS