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(LEAD) Seoul stocks edge up amid cautious note

All Headlines 16:02 February 03, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished slightly higher Friday as investors took to the sidelines amid increased market uncertainties stemming from U.S. President Donald Trump's policies. The Korean won sharply rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 2.15 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 2,073.16. Trade volume was moderate at 386 million shares worth 4.65 trillion won (US$4.02 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 479 to 338.

The local stock market opened a tad higher on gains in auto and chemical stocks, but its gains were pared by losses in steel and refiner stocks.

For the past few sessions, the global stock market has been wobbly due to Trump's policies, including a travel ban. Investors also remained cautious ahead of job data from the U.S., the world's largest economy, which will provide a clue on its health.

Tech and auto stocks were in negative terrain, while steelmakers and refiners suffered marginal losses.

"Exports are improving, and there is money out there in the market to buy stocks," said Kim Byong-yeon, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities. "The market will attempt to advance despite Trump-triggered uncertainties and other market uncertainties."

Foreign and institutional investors went into selling mode, while retail investors supported the market.

Top cap Samsung Electronics ended at 1,973,000 won, up 0.25 percent from the previous session's close.

SK hynix, a major chipmaker, finished at 53,700 won, up 1.7 percent.

Automakers also remained in positive terrain. Auto industry leader Hyundai Motor advanced 1.1 percent to 137,500 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors rose 1.26 percent to 36,150 won.

LG Chem, the country's No. 1 chemicals firm, advanced 0.36 percent to end at 275,500 won.

But oil refiners suffered a setback as investors attempted to lock in recent gains. S-Oil, the No. 3 refiner in the country, ended at 80,900 won, down 1.34 percent, and SK Innovation, the No.1 refiner, shed 2.8 percent to end at 156,500 won.

AmorePacific, the country's No. 1 cosmetics maker, gained 0.17 percent to end at 301,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,147.60 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.8 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1.1 basis points to 1.685 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond advanced 2.3 basis points to 1.883 percent.

sam@yna.co.kr
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