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(LEAD) Seoul shares rise on bargain hunting

All Headlines 16:32 December 17, 2018

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

SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed higher Monday on bargain hunting, with investors looking ahead to the upcoming Federal Reserve meeting, analysts said. The South Korean won firmed against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 1.71 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,071.09. Trading volume was moderate at 438.22 million shares worth 4.63 trillion won (US$4.09 billion), with losers outpacing winners 464 to 362.

The index advanced as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting slated for Tuesday, with investors betting that the Fed will take a more dovish monetary policy direction amid signs of slowing global growth.

The South Korean government also expected the nation's economy to grow around 2.6 percent to 2.7 percent next year, slower than this year.

"It is unlikely that the Federal Reserve maintains its hawkish stance due to concerns over the slowing economy and trade disputes with China and uncertainties in Europe," Baek Chan-gyu, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities, said. "The stock market is expected to show limited movement until uncertainties are somewhat cleared."

Foreigners and institutions each bought a net 65.33 billion won and 204.06 billion won worth of local stocks, while retail investors sold a net 258.08 billion won.

Tech shares rose as foreign investors loaded up on undervalued blue chips.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.51 percent to 39,150 won, and chipmaker SK hynix advanced 0.65 percent to 62.200 won.

Bio shares, on the other hand, were mixed.

Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion scored 3.12 percent to 214,50 won after its biosimilar to breast cancer treatment Herceptin won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Samsung Biologics, the healthcare unit of Samsung Group, sank 4.85 percent to 372,500 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor was steady at 116,500 won, while leading steelmaker POSCO increased 1.57 percent to 258,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,131.3 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.5 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 1.4 basis points to 1.795 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds lost 1 basis point to 1.886 percent.

(LEAD) Seoul shares rise on bargain hunting - 1

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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