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South Korea: Stocks, won rise as investors bet on policy support

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[SEOUL] South Korean stocks jumped 1 per cent on Tuesday as the spread of the coronavirus slowed in the nation and investors pinned hopes on policy measures to blunt the economic impact of the epidemic. The won and the benchmark bond yield gained.

The Seoul stock market's main Kospi closed up 24.57 points, or 1.18 per cent, at 2,103.61.

The country reported 130 newly confirmed infections by Tuesday, bringing the total cases to 893, but the pace of spread slowed compared to a day earlier.

Stocks gained on bargain-hunting, while expectations of a rate cut and policy measures to boost liquidity lifted sentiment, said Lee Kyoung-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities.

The Bank of Korea is expected to lower its policy rate to a record low to offset the impact of the coronavirus on Asia's fourth-largest economy.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said on Monday he has advised the government to start the review and execution of a supplementary budget to cushion the virus' impact.

Foreigners were net sellers for a second straight session, as they offloaded 769.1 billion won (S$886.7 million) worth of Kospi shares on Tuesday.

The won was quoted at 1,210.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.82 per cent higher than its previous close at 1,220.2.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,211.0 per U.S. dollar, up 0.7 per cent from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,210.5 per dollar.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.24 per cent, after U.S. stocks plunged overnight. Japanese stocks fell 3.34 per cent.

The Kospi has fallen 4.28 per cent so far this year and lost 4.9 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions.

The trading volume during the session in the Kospi index was 1,545.20 million shares. Of the total traded issues of 906, the number of advancing shares was 706.

The won has lost 4.5 per cent against the dollar this year.

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.10 points to 111.19, while the three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.41 per cent in late afternoon trade.

The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 2.9 basis points to 1.166 per cent in late afternoon trade and the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 0.8 basis point to 1.423 per cent.