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Seoul: Stocks, won up; hope for respite from N Korea woes before holidays

[SEOUL] South Korean shares bounced slightly on Friday after sizable losses over the past two weeks as gains on Wall Street helped sooth sentiment even as investors remained nervous over heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Traders say investors are looking ahead to the third-quarter earnings season, which will kick off after the long Oct 2-9 national holidays.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.5 per cent at 2,385.70 points as of 0237 GMT. The benchmark has lost 0.7 per cent for the week so far and down nearly two per cent since Sept 19.

Global markets, including those in Seoul, have been buffeted over the past several weeks amid an escalating war of words between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

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"After Chuseok holiday, the Kospi is likely get back on its upward trend as many expect robust earnings from South Korea for July-September period," said Kim Sung Hwan, a stock analyst at Bookook Securities.

The South Korean won also edged up to 1,146.0 on the US dollar, up 0.3 per cent versus Thursday's close of 1,149.1.

South Korea's finance ministry said it would act to stabilise any financial market volatilities across the long holiday week, and act swiftly in case of unexpected events.

On the Seoul bourse, advancing issues far outnumbered declining ones 527 to 278.

Market heavyweights were mostly up with web portal Naver gaining nearly two per cent and Hyundai Motor up 2.4 per cent.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.05 point to 108.62 after a huge sell-off earlier this week.

Foreign investors offloaded about three trillion won (S$3.56 billion) worth of South Korean treasury bonds on Tuesday and Wednesday in the face of renewed tensions between North Korea and the United States.

REUTERS