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(LEAD) Seoul stocks hit 15-month high on positive BOK note, Samsung

All Headlines 16:42 January 17, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS photo and bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks rose for the second consecutive day Friday to hit a 15-month high on a rosy economic outlook for Asia's fourth-largest economy and a rally by Samsung Electronics. The South Korean won gained ground against the U.S. dollar.

After choppy trading, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 2.52 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 2,250.57, its highest level since Oct. 8, 2018. Trade volume was moderate at 568 million shares worth 5.2 trillion won (US$4.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 448 to 354.

An electronic signboard at KEB Hana Bank in Seoul shows the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) up 0.11 percent to close at 2,250.57 points on Jan. 16, 2020. (Yonhap)

Foreigners and individuals scooped up a net 94.7 billion won and 185.7 billion won, respectively. Meanwhile, institutions offloaded a net 298.7 billion won.

The index opened sharply higher after U.S. stocks shot to fresh record highs as investors digested the latest corporate earnings reports.

Investor sentiment was boosted by an upbeat assessment of economic conditions by the Bank of Korea, which left its policy rate steady at a record low of 1.25 percent.

But weaker-than-expected economic growth in China limited further gains. China's economy grew 6.1 percent last year, the slowest expansion in 29 years.

The index trimmed some early gains after the momentum caused by a preliminary trade deal between the United States and China partially disappeared.

"Solid U.S. economic data also brought positive effects to the local index. However, there will be attempts by investors to bank recent profits," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said.

In Seoul, large-cap shares were mixed.

Top cap Samsung Electronics was up 0.99 percent to end at an all-time high of 61,300 won on a rosy outlook for the chip industry. Meanwhile, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 0.2 percent to close at 99,000 won.

Auto shares were also mixed. Leading automaker Hyundai Motor was unchanged at 118,500 won, and auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis was down 0.6 percent at 248,000 won. Meanwhile, Hyundai's smaller sister company, Kia Motors, was 0.61 percent up at 41,400 won.

Major pharmaceutical firm Celltrion fell 3.05 percent to 175,000 after jumping more than 3 percent a session earlier. Meanwhile, Samsung BioLogics, a bio affiliate of Samsung Group, gained 0.11 percent to end at 437,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,159.4 to the U.S. greenback, up 1.7 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.7 basis point to stand at 1.433 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond was up 1.7 basis points to reach 1.553 percent.

khj@yna.co.kr
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