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Seoul stocks trim gains late Thursday morning amid virus angst

All News 11:37 March 05, 2020

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks pared back part of their earlier gains late Thursday morning amid angst over the spread of the new coronavirus here.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) had risen 5.17 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,064.50 as of 11:15 a.m.

The main index tracked overnight gains on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.53 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index climbed 3.85 percent.

The U.S. stocks soared after former Vice President Joe Biden, widely seen as a business-friendly candidate, strengthened his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

Huh Jae-hwan, a strategist at Eugene Investment Co., said a rate cut in Canada and expectations of rate reductions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are helping boost investor sentiment.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates by half a percentage point in an apparent move to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

Still, Huh said coronavirus uncertainties limited further gains.

South Korea has reported more than 5,700 confirmed coronavirus cases, and the death toll has reached 35.

Large-cap stocks were mixed.

Leading pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics gained 0.82 percent, and South Korean biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion rose 1.43 percent.

But Samsung Electronics fell 1.05 percent, and South Korea's No. 2 chipmaker, SK hynix, was down 0.21 percent. South Korea's largest carmaker Hyundai Motor was flat.

The local currency was trading at 1,186.85 won against the U.S. dollar, up 0.95 won from the previous session's close.


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