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Seoul stocks open higher on U.S. gains, efforts to stop coronavirus

All News 09:25 February 06, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- Seoul stocks opened higher Thursday, taking a cue from overnight gains on Wall Street on strong U.S. economic data and hopes for containment of the new coronavirus.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 20.77 points, or 1 percent, to 2,186.40 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

Strong U.S. jobs data in January and China's plan to stabilize its financial markets with a cash injection, and the country's stimulus measures to support growth, helped ease risk sentiment, analysts said.

They said news reports on possible vaccines for the virus also buoyed investor sentiment, though the World Health Organization said there are no proven treatments.

Foreigners continued to buy local stocks and institutions turned net buyers, underpinning the KOSPI index. Foreigners and institutions bought a combined 33 billion won (US$28 million) worth of stocks, offsetting 32 billion won stocks sold by individuals.

Since the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, the new coronavirus has killed over 560 and infected more than 20,000 people in China as of Thursday and reached 24 countries, including the U.S.

South Korea had reported 23 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday.

Large-cap stocks advanced across the board.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. rose 0.8 percent, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. climbed 0.8 percent, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. gained 3.2 percent and leading steelmaker POSCO was up 4.2 percent.

Among decliners, leading chemical firm LG Chem Ltd. fell 2.2 percent, and cosmetics firm AmorePacific Corp. fell 1.4 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,183.40 won against the U.S. dollar, up 8.10 won from the previous session's close.

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