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Seoul: Stocks, won hold steady ahead of earnings, Trump-Xi summit


[SEOUL] South Korean shares and won took a breather early on Wednesday, ahead of first-quarter earnings and a summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.

South Korean markets shrugged off a ballistic missile launch by North Korea earlier on Wednesday. Mr Trump and Mr Xi are expected to discuss Pyongyang's arms programme when they meet on Thursday and Friday.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was at 2,160.73 points as of 0225 GMT, steady versus the previous close.

The South Korean won was quoted at 1,122.7 against the US dollar, down 0.1 per cent compared to Tuesday's close of 1,121.9.

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March-quarter earnings are expected to be strong and give the stock market a lift, as recent macroeconomic data signalled a recovery, said Cho Byung-Hyun, a stock analyst at Yuanta Securities.

South Korea's exports grew more than expected in March thanks to stronger global demand, marking a rise for a fifth straight month.

The first-quarter earnings period will start with tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd releasing its guidance on Friday.

"The Kospi could touch the 2,200-point level and even reach as high as 2,250 points this month," Mr Cho said.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers for a third consecutive session, offloading 57.1 billion Korean won (S$71.1 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Shares of Ahnlab Inc soared nearly 20 per cent, after its founder Ahn Cheol-Soo clinched his centrist People's Party nomination to run for president on Tuesday.

Hyundai Motor Co lost nearly 2 per cent and Kia Motors Corp was down 1.2 per cent.

Advancers and decliners were even by 384 to 382.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.01 point to 109.53.