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South Korea: Stocks edge up as steel, cosmetics gain; won at 4-week high

[SEOUL] South Korean shares edged up early on Monday led by steel and cosmetics firms, but the upside was capped as foreign investors took profit in the tech sector after a recent rally.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.1 per cent at 2,476.84 points as of 0312 GMT. The index briefly touched a high of 2,487,71 points, a new intraday high.

"Steel shares are on the rise as China's steel price largely increased, which in turn boosted demand for South Korea's counterpart," said Lee Kyung Min, a stock analyst at Daishin Securities.

The sub-index for overall steel-manufacturing company shares gained 3.9 per cent, with Posco up more than 5 percent.

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Also leading the market were cosmetics-related shares, which saw a sharp rise on expectations that the political relationship between South Korea and China would improve.

Mr Lee said the gains in cosmetics companies were a result of Seoul and Beijing's agreement for an extension of a currency swap deal on Friday.

Shares of Hankook Cosmetics Manufacturing Co Ltd surge as much as 28.3 per cent, the biggest intraday percentage gain since mid-August of 2016. Amorepacific Corp also rose as much as 5.5 per cent to a more than one-month high.

Chipmaker SK Hynix , however, was down nearly 3 per cent, pressured by heavy foreign selling after their recent rally. The sub-index for electronic and electric shares had gained 4.7 per cent last week.

Offshore investors sold a net 25.3 billion won (S$30.3 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

The South Korean won nudged up to a four-month high as subdued US inflation weighed on the dollar.

The won was quoted at 1,126.9 to the dollar, up 0.2 per cent compared with the previous close of 1,128.9.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.03 point to 108.54.

REUTERS