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Seoul: Stocks, won gain on trade optimism

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[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index and the won rose on Thursday, tracking gains on Wall Street on expectations that the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations will lead to a further easing of global trade tensions.

At 01:35 GMT, the Kospi was up 9.62 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 2,318.65. Steelmakers led the gains after the US Commerce Department said that President Donald Trump signed a proclamation permitting targeted relief from steel and aluminium quotas from countries including South Korea. Posco and Hyundai Steel Co gained 2 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively.

Cosmetic and duty-free firms exposed to China rose after Beijing lifted bans in more cities on tour packages to South Korea.

China had earlier allowed some Shanghai-based agencies to sell South Korea tour packages. Cosmetic brands including Amorepacific Corp, popular among Chinese customers, gained 2.3 per cent, while companies engaged in duty-free business such as Hotel Shilla Co and Shinsegae Inc climbed 2.4 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.

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The won was quoted at 1,108.1 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.19 per cent firmer than its previous close at 1,110.2.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,108.2 per US dollar, up 0.13 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,090.85 per US dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.24 per cent, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. Japanese stocks rose 0.51 per cent. 

The Kospi is down around 6.4 per cent so far this year, and up by 0.48 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 volume during the session on the Kospi index was 106,161,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 892, the number of advancing shares was 476.

Foreigners were net buyers of 82,243 million won worth of shares.

The US dollar has risen 3.92 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,053.55 per US dollar on April 2, and low is 1,140.4 on July 19.

In money and debt markets, September futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.03 points to 108.71.

The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.65 per cent, while the benchmark three-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.969 per cent, higher than the previous day's 1.95 per cent.

REUTERS