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(LEAD) Seoul shares inch up amid trade war uncertainties

Stocks 16:29 February 11, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main bourse ended slightly higher Monday as investors cautiously awaited developments regarding trade talks between the United States and China, analysts said. The local currency weakened against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 3.68 points, or 0.17 percent, to finish at 2,180.73. Trading volume was relatively light at 398.63 million shares worth 5.15 trillion won (US$5.01 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 471 to 368.

After opening nearly flat, the index fluctuated in a tight range throughout the session. Retail investors picked up 114 billion won worth of local shares, while overseas and institutional investors dumped shares worth 57.5 billion won and 74.2 billion won, respectively.

"Investors appear to be taking a wait-and-see posture as the U.S. and China began their high-level negotiations on trade terms," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said.

"Until the market gauges the direction of the global trade deal, such volatility is likely to continue," he noted.

On the Seoul bourse, the last-minute buying of tech shares pulled up the index.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.45 percent to 45,000 won, and SK hynix, the world's No. 2 chipmaker, grew 0.82 percent to 74,100 won.

Big-cap steel and chemicals also gathered ground. Top steelmaker POSCO surged 1.14 percent to 267,000 won, and LG Chem advanced 0.54 percent to 372,000 won.

Auto shares traded bullish. Top carmaker Hyundai Motor jumped 1.59 percent to finish at 127,500 won, and Kia Motors soared 1.65 percent to 37,000 won.

But financials tumbled on investors' profit-taking, with Shinhan Financial falling 1.25 percent to 43,300 won and KB Financial dropping 3.64 percent to 46,350 won.

The local currency closed at 1,124.7 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.8 won from Friday's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 0.5 basis point to 1.781 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds lost 1.6 basis points to 1.837 percent.

(LEAD) Seoul shares inch up amid trade war uncertainties - 1

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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