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S.Korea: Stocks up at 4-week high

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares and the won ended at multi-week highs on Monday as a surge in global investor confidence following a centrist victory in the first round of the French presidential election offset persistent local concerns about North Korea.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed up 0.4 per cent to more than four-week high of at 2,173.74 points.

The won was quoted at 1,129.9 to the dollar, the highest since April 13, at the conclusion of onshore trade, also rising 0.4 per cent compared with Friday's close of 1,134.4.

Pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron's win in the first round of French elections boosted Asian financial markets, on relief that France had not been left with a choice between far-right and far-left.

Market voices on:

"Investors' greatest worry had been North Korea and the French presidential vote. Risk appetite returned today as the worst seems to be over," Park Chun-young, a stock analyst at Daishin Securities said.

"But upside to this rally looks limited for now as uncertainties related to North Korea are high," Mr Park said.

Tensions between North Korea and the United States heightened again after Pyongyang said on Sunday it was ready to sink a US aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, and detained a US citizen on Saturday as he attempted to leave the country.

North Korea will mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army on Tuesday. It has in the past marked important anniversaries with tests of its weapons.

While traders are hunkering down for now in case of possible action by the North, investors remain interested in riskier assets following the result of the first round of the French presidential election over the weekend, said Kim Ji-hyung, a stock analyst at Hanyang Securities.

"If the North's provocations are limited to short-range missile launches, market jitters linked to geopolitical risks are expected to peter out," added Mr Kim.

He also said markets are awaiting more details of US President Donald's Trump's tax policies expected April 26.