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(LEAD) Seoul shares end higher on Sino-U.S. trade optimism

All Headlines 16:31 December 13, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished higher Thursday as investors took comfort from signs that trade frictions between the United States and China have eased, experts said. The South Korean won strengthened against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 12.98 points, or 0.62 percent, to 2.095.55. Trading volume was heavy at 368.20 million shares worth 7.56 trillion won (US$6.73 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 652 to 182.

Foreign investors led the upturn by purchasing a net 488.0 billion won worth of local shares, while retailers and institutions offloaded shares worth 176.3 billion won and 311.9 billion won, respectively.

"Of the latest developments regarding the trade spat, China's plan to revise related policy measures appeared to assuage investors," said Heo Jae-hwan, an expert at Eugene Investment & Securities.

According to media reports, China is moving to replace its "Made in China 2025" industrial policy with a new one to expand foreign companies' access to its market. The plan, designed to transform to China into a high-tech manufacturing powerhouse by 2025, has been criticized by the Trump administration as protectionist.

Chemical shares finished higher, leading the market upswing.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem surged 1.43 percent to 355,000 won, and LG Household & Health Care increased 1.05 percent to 1,160,000 won. AmorePacific also surged 2.65 percent to 193,500 won, and top steelmaker POSCO advanced 1.81 percent to 253,000 won.

Bio shares in general gained ground, though the top-cap ones finished mixed.

Samsung BioLogics soared 3.93 percent to 410,000 won, while pharmaceutical giant Celltrion skidded 3.97 percent to 217,500 won.

But tech shares tumbled on profit-taking. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 1.11 percent to close at 40,000 won, and SK hynix shed 1.06 percent, ending at 65,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,123.4 won against the U.S. dollar, up 5.1 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 0.8 basis point to 1.795 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds remained unchanged at 1.907 percent.

(LEAD) Seoul shares end higher on Sino-U.S. trade optimism - 1


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