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Seoul: Stocks, won gain on easing North Korea tensions

[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index rose on Wednesday on positive sentiment after signs of a thaw in relations with North Korea, and the North's willingness to discuss denuclearisation with the United States. The Korean won gained, while bond yields fell.

At 0214 GMT, the Kospi was up 13.14 points or 0.54 per cent at 2,424.55. Stocks with exposure to North Korea rallied, with Shinwon, which used to operate factories in the Kaesong industrial region near the Demilitarized Zone, surging 20 per cent.

Samsung Electronics jumped 3.8 per cent, while LG Electronics gained 2.4 per cent.

The won was quoted at 1,068.6 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.7 per cent firmer than its previous close of 1,076.1.

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In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,068.7 per US dollar, down 0.54 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,058.55 per US dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.11 percent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. Japanese stocks rose 0.11 per cent.

The Kospi is down around 2.3 per cent so far this year, and has fallen 4.15 per cent in the last 30 days.

Its 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 (S$1.52 trillion).

The trading volume on the Kospi index was 202,697,000 shares, and of the total traded issues of 883, the number of advancing shares was 363.

Foreigners net sold 163,155 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 0.22 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,056.67 per US dollar on Jan 14 and low is 1,098.4 on Feb 6.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.05 points to 107.7.