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South Korea: Stocks, won mark time as Asia awaits China GDP; BOK holds rates

[SEOUL] Seoul shares and the won kept to narrow trading ranges early on Thursday as investors awaited China's third-quarter GDP data later in the morning for clues on the health of South Korea's biggest export market.

The Bank of Korea kept interest rates on hold at current record low of 1.25 per cent, which barely affected the market as the decision was largely expected. Traders are now awaiting a news conference by the BOK governor.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.1 per cent at 2,484.85 points as of 0115 GMT.

The South Korean won stood at 1,131.2 against the dollar, down 0.1 per cent compared to Wednesday's close of 1,129.9.

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China's economic growth (0200 GMT) is expected to ease slightly to 6.8 per cent in the third quarter due to a cooling property sector and the government's battle against debt risks.

"There are some hopes that China's GDP could beat market's consensus of 6.8 per cent and if it turns out so, the KOSPI would further gain during the session," said Seo Sang Young, a stock analyst at Kiwoom Securities.

Foreign investors were set to be net buyers, adding 61.6 billion Korean won worth of Kospi shares near mid-session to their portfolios.

Seoul shares were mixed, with an almost even number of declining issues and advancing ones.

Tech firm LG Electronics gained 4.1 per cent while Samsung Electronics fell 1.5 per cent.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.01 point to 108.54.

REUTERS