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(LEAD) Seoul shares close higher on eased outbreak concerns

All News 16:35 February 14, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields, photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed higher Friday as investors became more open to risk-taking following a three-day hiatus in new coronavirus infection cases here. The Korean won fell slightly against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 10.63 points, or 0.48 percent, to close at 2,243.59. Trading volume was moderate at 589 million shares worth some 6.1 trillion won (US$5.15 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 490 to 335.

The index rebounded after opening lower on overnight losses on Wall Street that apparently came in the face of a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infection cases in China.

This photo taken Feb. 14, 2020, shows the trading room at a KEB Hana Bank branch in Seoul. (Yonhap)

This photo taken Feb. 14, 2020, shows the trading room at a KEB Hana Bank branch in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"The tremble in global stock markets on the previous day was due to the continued spread of the new coronavirus. Stocks markets had positively viewed a drop in the number of confirmed and suspected cases. Risk-taking behaviors weakened on the news of a spike in the number of infected people and further spread of the virus in Japan and the United States," NH Investment & Securities analyst Noh Dong-kil said.

China has so far reported over 60,000 confirmed cases with more than 10,000 cases added just overnight on Thursday, largely due to its fresh inclusion of suspected patients based only on their initial test results.

"The number of new confirmed cases released by China's Hubei Province today is 4,823, confirming that the number announced the day before was an one-off event. The World Health Organization shared a similar view. The U.S. stock market pared earlier losses following the WHO announcement," Noh added.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.43 percent to close at 29,423.31 Thursday (U.S. time).

South Korea has reported 28 confirmed cases of the COVID-19, but no new case since Tuesday.

Foreign investors scooped up a net 93.6 billion worth of local shares while institutions dumped a net 108.4 billion won. Retail investors sold a net 1.3 billion won.

Large caps closed mixed.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics surged 1.81 percent to 61,800 won, with No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix spiking 2.45 percent to 104,500 won.

Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics lost 0.19 percent to 529,000 won while steel giant POSCO slipped 0.68 percent to 219,500 won.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor added 0.38 percent to 133,500 won, but top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis slipped 0.84 percent to 237,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,183.0 won against the dollar, down 0.20 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 5.5 basis points to 1.330 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 5.0 basis points to 1.454 percent.


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