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(LEAD) Seoul stocks continue to jump on eased concerns over U.S.-Iran conflict

All News 16:36 January 10, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in 3rd para, bond yields at bottom; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed sharply higher for the second consecutive session Friday amid the outlook that the United States and Iran may avoid an all-out war despite persisting tensions between them, analysts said. The local currency closed slightly lower against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) surged 19.94 points, or 0.91 percent, to close at 2,206.39. Trading volume was moderate at 584 million shares worth 6.32 trillion won (US$5.44 billion), with winners far outnumbering losers 569 to 265.

It marked the first time since Dec. 27 that the index closed over the 2,200 threshold, and the highest finish since 2,212.75 posted on May 2, 2019.

Local shares lost grounds earlier this week on rising concerns over a possible conflict between Washington and Teheran after Iran staged a missile attack against U.S. military bases in Iraq.

A dealer at a KEB Hana Bank trading room in Seoul watches a computer monitor after the South Korean stock market closed sharply higher on Jan. 10, 2020. (Yonhap)

South Korean shares, however, gathered ground after U.S. President Donald Trump said no U.S. personnel were killed or injured in the attack, and that the country will roll out tougher economic sanctions instead of a military retaliation.

"The uncertainties from the Middle East were eased, and the news reports that a Chinese delegation plans to visit the U.S. to sign the phase-one trade deal gave a push to local stock prices," said Lee Won, a researcher at Bookook Securities Co.

Foreigners bought a net 380 billion won, extending their buying streak to a sixth consecutive session. Institutions offloaded a net 363 billion won, while retail investors net sold 26.2 billion won.

Tech shares closed higher on the growing optimism for the chip industry, with market kingpin Samsung Electronics advancing 1.54 percent to 59,500 won. Samsung SDI, the battery unit of South Korea's top conglomerate, shot up 7.1 percent to finish at 249,000 won.

No. 1 pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics climbed 3.93 percent to 436,500 won, and Hanmi Pharmaceutical added 1.56 percent to 292,500 won. Celltrion edged up 0.28 percent to 177,500 won.

Chemical shares also closed bullish, with LG Chem spiking 6.04 percent to 325,000 won and LG Household & Health Care advancing 1.44 percent to 1,343,000 won. Top cosmetics producer AmorePacific closed 4.01 percent higher at 220,500 won.

Mobile carriers finished weaker, with No. 1 SK Telecom falling 0.43 percent to 231,000 won, and KT closing unchanged at 26,050 won. LG Uplus, the smallest player, shed 1.5 percent to 13,100 won.

The local currency closed at 1,161.30 won to the dollar, down 2.20 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.9 basis point to 1.425 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bond gained 3 basis points to 1.546 percent.


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