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Yonhap News Summary

All Headlines 17:00 October 24, 2019

The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.

(4th LD) PM Lee expects Seoul-Tokyo dialogue to pick up pace after talks with Abe
(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with details, photos)

SEOUL/TOKYO -- South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon voiced optimism Thursday that Seoul and Tokyo will accelerate their "official" diplomatic dialogue to mend their frayed ties, speaking after his 21-minute talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Lee said he regards the "unofficial, periodic dialogue so far" between the diplomatic authorities of the two sides as having been "formalized."

Now, he added, South Korea-Japan diplomacy is expected to gain speed.

Lee and Abe agreed on the need to address the problem of strained bilateral relations centering on a monthslong trade spat.

Lee also handed over a letter from President Moon Jae-in to Abe, in which Moon expressed hope for an early resolution.

(2nd LD) S. Korea's economic growth projected to hit 10-year low in 2019
(ATTN: ADDS comment by finance minister in 17th para)

SEOUL -- South Korea's economic growth will likely slow down further this year, possibly falling below the 2 percent mark for the first time in 10 years, analysts said Thursday.

The gloomy outlook comes after the Bank of Korea (BOK) said the local economy grew 0.4 percent from three months earlier in the third quarter, marking a sharp slowdown from a revised 1 percent on-quarter expansion in the previous quarter.

On an on-year basis, the local economy grew 2 percent in the second quarter and again in the third quarter.

In the first quarter, the country's gross domestic product contracted 0.4 percent from the previous quarter, marking 1.7 percent on-year growth.

In July, the BOK predicted Asia's fourth-largest economy to grow 2.2 percent this year. The latest growth estimate was the second downward revision from the 2.6 percent projected at the start of the year and the 2.5 percent in April.

(2nd LD) N. Korea yet to offer talks on removal of S. Korean assets at Mt. Kumgang: official
(ATTN: ADDS expert's views in last 5 paras)

SEOUL -- North Korea has not made an official offer yet to South Korea for talks on its decision to remove South Korea-built facilities at the country's Mount Kumgang resort, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

On Wednesday, state media reported that leader Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of all the "unpleasant-looking" buildings through an "agreement with the relevant unit of the south side," stressing the North should not rely on the South for a now-suspended joint tour program to the scenic mountain.

"With regard to Mount Kumgang, we have not received any offer or additional response from the North yet," the ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "We will continue to closely monitor relevant developments and make practical preparations."

Kia Motors sees Q3 profit rise 9.4 pct on currency, SUVs

SEOUL -- Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-largest carmaker by sales, said Thursday its third-quarter net profit rose 9.4 percent from a year earlier on a weak won and strong sales of sport utility vehicles.

For the three months that ended Sept. 30, net profit rose to 325.8 billion won (US$277 million) from 297.7 billion won a year ago, the company said in a statement.

Higher demand for the Telluride SUV in the United States helped boost the quarterly earnings, but one-off costs worth 300 billion won involving a U.S. engine lawsuit settlement limited the net result.

The Telluride, produced in Kia's U.S. plant, was launched in the U.S. last year and is sold only in North American markets.

(LEAD) Hyundai Motor Q3 net jumps 51 pct on weak won, SUVs
(ATTN: ADDS executive's comment in 3rd para, details and background in paras 4-7, 9-10)

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co. said Thursday its third-quarter net profit jumped 51 percent from a year earlier on a weak won and robust sales of sport utility vehicles.

Net profit for the three months that ended Sept. 30 rose to 460.5 billion won (US$393 million) from 306 billion won a year ago, also helped by a strike-free wage deal for the year, the company said in a statement.

"Robust sales of the Palisade SUV in the United States buoyed the quarterly earnings, but one-off costs worth over 600 billion won involving a U.S. engine lawsuit settlement limited the net result," Hyundai Motor Executive Vice President Choi Byung-chul said on a conference call with analysts after the release of the quarterly results.

Hyundai Motor recently reached a settlement with car owners regarding the suit over its Theta II gasoline direct injection (GDi) engine for problems such as engine stall and non-collision fires in the United States.

The won's weakness against the dollar continued to give a boost to Hyundai Motor's profits.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks close higher after choppy trading
(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL -- Seoul stocks closed higher Thursday after a choppy session as investors took a wait-and-see stance on the third-quarter performance of major listed firms. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 5.04 points, or 0.24 percent, to reach 2,085.66. Trading volume was moderate at 352.6 million shares worth 4.6 trillion won (US$3.92 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 415 to 394.

The index kicked off higher earlier in the session as investors' sentiment was boosted by eased concerns over a no-deal Brexit.

Seoul shares, however, later traded in a negative terrain as investors were divided over the third-quarter performance of listed firms.

The market eventually closed higher on the back of gains from carmakers and pharmaceuticals.

(LEAD) POSCO Q3 net drops 53 pct on high material costs
(ATTN: ADDS photo, more info from 5th para)

SEOUL -- POSCO, South Korea's top steelmaker, said Thursday its third-quarter net profit dropped 53 percent from a year earlier, hit by high raw material costs.

Net profit reached 496.8 billion won (US$424 million) in the July-September period on a consolidated basis, compared with a profit of 1.05 trillion won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Third-quarter operating profit reached 1.04 trillion won, down 32 percent from a year earlier, with sales declining 2.6 percent on-year to 15.9 trillion won over the cited period, it added.

On a standalone basis, POSCO's third-quarter net profit dived 44 percent on-year to 499 billion won. Sales dropped 2.1 percent to 7.7 trillion won, while operating income slid 39.5 percent to 662.5 billion won, compared with a year ago.


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