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Seoul: Stocks slip; won edges up on US-EU trade tensions

[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index weakened on Wednesday amid worries over trade talks between the US President Donald Trump and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker set later on Wednesday. The South Korean won inched higher while bond yields fell. At 0633 GMT, the Kospi was down 7.17 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 2,273.03. Pharmaceutical firms fell sharply, leading the fall in South Korean market. Samsung BioLogics dropped 5.4 per cent, while the sub-index for medical supplies plunged 4.7 per cent.

Shares in major shareholders of South Korea's SK Engineering & Construction fell after the collapse of a dam it was building in Laos. SK E&C's No1 shareholder, SK Holdings Co Ltd, fell 5.1 per cent while second-biggest shareholder SK Discovery Co Ltd lost 11.9 per cent.

However, South Korea's major petrochemical manufacturer LG Chem Ltd jumped on Wednesday after reporting its largest ever quarterly sales of around 7.1 trillion won on Tuesday. LG Chem surges as much as 10 per cent to its highest since June 19; also posts biggest per centage gain since Aug 2011.

The won was quoted at 1,126.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.79 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,135.2. In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,125.25 per US dollar, up 0.1 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being asked at 1,108.95 per dollar.

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MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.31 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with gains. Japanese stocks rose 0.46 per cent. The KOSPI is down around 7.6 per cent so far this year, and down by 7.69 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 volumes during the session on the Kospi index was 305,498,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 890, the number of advancing shares was 304. Foreigners were net sellers of 172,889 million won worth of shares. The US dollar has risen 5.52 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,053.55 per dollar on April 2, 2018 and low is 1,140.4 on July 19, 2018. In money and debt markets, September futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.03 points to 108.19. The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.65 per cent compared with a previous close of 1.65 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 2.082 per cent, lower than the previous day's 2.09 per cent.

REUTERS