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(LEAD) Seoul shares end higher on eased global woes

All News 16:11 January 25, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed higher Monday as major economies' pledge to extend stimulus measures and rising oil prices eased concerns over a global downturn. The local currency closed higher against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 14 points, or 0.74 percent, to end at 1,893.43. Trade volume was moderate at 311.41 million shares worth 4.01 trillion won (US$3.36 billion), with winners beating losers 622 to 188.

After going through a seesaw week, local shares extended the winning streak for a second straight session following more than a 2 percent surge on Friday amid possible quantitative easing by major countries and the rebound in oil prices from multiyear lows due to a cold snap in the United States and Europe.

Last week, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted at injecting fresh liquidity into the market as soon as March, and Japan was reportedly considering similar moves to guard against deflation.

"Hope for more stimulus measures will bring investors back to the local market, as they are well aware that the market plunge in the new year was mostly attributable to external uncertainties," said Park Seok-hyun, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities.

"Investors are also expecting dovish messages from the U.S. central bank," he said, pointing to the FOMC meeting due later this week where the U.S. Fed is widely forecast to freeze the borrowing costs a month after its first rate hike by a quarter point in nearly a decade.

Institutions scooped up a net 258.7 billion won to lead the gains, while overseas investors sold a net 82.2 billion won to extend their sell-off run to a record 36th straight session if excluding the net purchase on Jan. 6, following the block deal of Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. Individuals also sold a net 187 billion won.

Steelmakers and builders finished bullish on hopes for better economic conditions, with top steelmaker POSCO jumping 5.59 percent to 170,000 won and Hyundai Steel advancing 4.99 percent to 47,300 won.

Chemicals and refiners were also among marked gainers thanks to higher oil prices. LG Household & Health Care surged 3.79 percent to 986,000 won, AmorePacific rose 1.66 percent to 399,000 won and S-Oil increased 0.88 percent to 88,700 won.

Samsung SDI, the battery and chemical arm of South Korea's top conglomerate Samsung Group, added 0.49 percent to 102,500 won after it decided earlier in the day to spin off the chemical business and sell its 90 percent stake to Lotte Chemical. Lotte spiked 4.44 percent to 259,000 won.

But market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 0.51 percent to 1,162,000 won, and top automaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 1.08 percent to 137,500 won.

The local currency ended at 1,194.20 won against the greenback, up 5.8 won from Friday's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys finished unchanged at 1.621 percent while the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds shed 0.2 basis point to 1.758 percent.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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