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Seoul: Stocks wobble on GDP shock; won hits lowest since 2017

[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index ended lower on Thursday after the country's first-quarter growth data marked its weakest since the global financial crisis. The won weakened to its lowest since early 2017, and the benchmark bond yield dropped.

The Seoul stock market's main KOSPI closed down 10.53 points, or 0.48 per cent, at 2,190.50 points.

Gross domestic product (GDP) data released in early Asian trading hours showed that South Korea's economy suffered its worst quarter since the global financial crisis, as investments and exports slumped in response to Sino-US trade tensions and cooling Chinese demand.

The Kospi index dropped less than expected due to growing optimism over facility investment following Samsung Electronics' investment plan released on Wednesday, said Lee Won, an analyst from Bookook Securities.

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Shares of SK Hynix closed up 2.2 per cent after the chipmaker said it was confident of recovery in memory chips demand later this year.

LG Electronics said it would stop producing smartphones in South Korea and move manufacturing to Vietnam, sending its shares up 4.5 per cent. Foreigners were net sellers of 16.5 billion won worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,160.5 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.83 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,150.9. During trading, the currency hit the lowest since January 2017.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,160.3 per US dollar, down 0.5 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,159.0 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.52 per cent, after US stocks inched lower. Japanese stocks rose 0.48 per cent.

The Kospi climbed 7.32 per cent so far this year, and rose 2.4 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 427.29 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 894, the number of advancing shares was 247.

The won slipped 3.9 per cent against the US dollar so far this year.

In money and debt markets, June futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.09 point to 109.51, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.85 per cent.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 2.3 basis points to 1.726 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 3.6 basis points to 1.876 per cent. 

REUTERS