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Seoul: Stocks, won flat ahead of ruling on president's impeachment

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[SEOUL] South Korea's share market and won trading were subdued early on Friday, with participants taking a cautious stance ahead of a ruling of President Park Geun-Hye's impeachment.

South Korea's Constitutional Court will soon deliver a ruling on a parliamentary vote impeaching Ms Park.

If the court upholds parliament's Dec 9 vote to impeach her over an influence-peddling scandal, she would be the country's first democratically elected leader to be forced from power, and an election would likely be called for May.

The court will begin a hearing to deliver its ruling at 11am (0200 GMT). The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was almost unchanged at 2,091.22 points as of 0144 GMT.

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The won stood at 1,159.6 against the US dollar, down 0.1 per cent compared with Thursday's close of 1,158.1. It briefly touched its lowest intraday level since Jan 31.

"If the court upholds the impeachment, it will actually support the index by clearing up political uncertainties from the market," said Cho Byung-Hyun, a stock analyst at Yuanta Securities.

Mr Cho added that rejection could hamper the Kospi, but the downturn would not last long as shares of exporting companies, which make up a bigger part in the stock market, will recover fast in the wake of global economic improvement.

Offshore investors were set to snap a four-day buying spree, selling a net 21.3 billion Korean won (S$26.12 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronic fell 0.2 per cent while SK Hynix rose 1.4 per cent.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 517 to 252.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.02 point to 109.17.