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(LEAD) Korean stocks, won jump 1 pct on eased Mideast concerns

All News 16:43 January 09, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional information in paras 11-12; ADDS bond yields at bottom, photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed sharply higher Thursday on eased concerns over a conflict between the United States and Iran that earlier sent global oil prices skyrocketing. The local currency also jumped nearly 1 percent against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) surged 35.14 points, or 1.63 percent, to close at 2,186.45. Trading volume was moderate at 583 million shares worth 7.04 trillion won (US$6.08 billion), with winners far outnumbering losers 737 to 136.

Dealers at a KEB Hana Bank trading room in Seoul watch their computer monitors after the South Korean stock market closed on an upbeat note on Jan. 9, 2020. The benchmark KOSPI jumped more than 1 percent on eased concerns over military conflict in the Middle East. (Yonhap)

The rise marks a sharp turnaround from a slump for the South Korean stock market, as well as other major markets in Asia, that came after Iran's missile attacks on U.S. military bases in retaliation for the U.S. killing a top Iranian general late last week.

U.S. President Trump on Wednesday (U.S. time), however, said no U.S. personnel were killed or injured in the barrage of missile attacks against U.S. military bases in Iraq.

The U.S. leader said his country will respond with punishing economic sanctions instead of military attacks that he earlier warned of in case of Iranian retaliation.

"Iran appears to want to minimize the possibility of its military conflict with the United States," NH Securities analyst Noh Dong-kil noted, citing reports that Iran had notified Iraq of its intended missile attacks in advance.

"The possibility of the friction between the two countries leading to a full-fledged war has dwindled. President Trump too has said his country will switch its measures against Iran to economic sanctions," Noh said, adding, "The financial market cheered at the reduced possibility of war. The price of risky assets has returned to the pre-Iran crisis level."

Japan's Nikkei spiked 535.11 points, or 2.31 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.69 percent as of 3:45 p.m. (Seoul time).

In Seoul, foreigners remained net buyers for a fifth consecutive session, scooping up a net 91.6 billion won, while individuals purchased a net 190 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 283.5 billion won.

Most large caps ended in positive terrain, with chipmakers continuing to build up gains on an outlook for a recovery in the global market.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics spiked 3.17 percent to 58,600 won, reaching an all-time high since the company was listed June 11, 1975. The previous record was 57,220 won posted on Nov. 1, 2017.

No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix soared 1.64 percent to 99,000 won while top chemical company LG Chem advanced 1.49 percent to 306,500 won.

Leading pharmaceutical company Celltrion surged 2.31 percent, while top chemical company LG Chem added 1.49 percent to 306,500 won.

Automakers extended their losses, with industry leader Hyundai Motor slipping 0.45 percent to 111,500 won, while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors plunged 1.33 percent to 40,750 won.

The local currency closed at 1,159.10 won to the dollar, sharply up 11.70 won, or 0.9 percent, from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 5.3 basis points to 1.416 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bond gained 5.6 basis points to 1.516 percent.


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