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South Korea: Stocks steady as Fed tempers rate cut hopes; eyes on G20

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[SEOUL] South Korea's KOSPI stock index was steady on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve chief's remarks tempered rate cut hopes, while investors focused on Sino-US trade talks at the G20 summit. The won fell, while the benchmark bond yield rose.

As of 0230 GMT, the Seoul stock market's main KOSPI was trading up 4.26 points or 0.20 per cent at 2,125.90 points.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Tuesday said that the US central bank is "insulated from short-term political pressures", and that its policymakers are wrestling with whether to cut interest rates as President Donald Trump has demanded. US stock indexes dropped following Mr Powell's remarks.

Following Mr Powell's comments, expectations of a Fed rate cut were adjusted, said Cho Byung-hyun, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Korea. The path of the markets would be decided after the G20 summit, Cho added.

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US President Donald Trump is slated to meet one-on-one with at least eight world leaders at the G20 summit in Japan this week, including China's President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The G20 summit will be held in the city of Osaka on June 27-29.

South Korean chipmakers rose after US Micron Technology said it expected demand for its chips to recover in the second half of 2019. SK Hynix gained more than 4 per cent, while Samsung Electronics added 0.4 per cent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.24 per cent, after US stocks dropped. Japanese stocks fell 0.49 per cent.

The KOSPI has climbed 3.90 per cent so far this year, and gained 2.1 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions. 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 360 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 889, the number of advancing shares was 309.

Foreigners were net buyers of 24.2 billion won (US$20.88 million) worth of shares on the main board.

The won was quoted at 1,159.6 per US dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.29 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,156.2.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,159.0 per US dollar, down 0.3 per cent from the previous session, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,157.0 per dollar.

The won has lost 3.8 per cent against the US dollar so far this year.

In money and debt markets, September futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.03 points to 110.36.

The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 1.7 basis points to 1.494 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield climbed by 1.1 basis points to 1.595 per cent.

REUTERS