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(LEAD) Seoul stocks up almost 2 pct on stimulus hopes, Korean won sharply up

16:39 March 27, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks rose nearly 2 percent on Friday as investors bet on stimulus measures around the globe to tackle the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Korean won sharply rose against the U.S. dollar.

After a choppy session, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 31.49 points, or 1.87 percent, to close at 1,717.73, rebounding from a 1.09 percent drop in the previous session.

The index lost steam in the afternoon, falling as low as 1,668.21, but moved upward again to settle above the flat line.

Trading volume was high at 1 billion shares worth 12.7 trillion won (US$10.4 billion), with gainers far outpacing losers 673 to 194.

A currency dealer walks by a screen showing the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index at a dealing room at KB Kookmin Bank in Seoul on March 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

The index got off to a strong start, rising as high as 4 percent, following overnight gains on Wall Street buoyed by the U.S. Senate's passage of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Investor sentiment also improved after leaders from the Group of 20 advanced economies announced that they agreed to inject $5 trillion into the global economy to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.

"With U.S. stocks rising despite an increase in unemployment benefit claims, it gave a positive impact to the local market," said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities. "But market volatility continued as concerns still remain over the economic impact of the new coronavirus pandemic."

Foreigners extended their selling streak to a 17th consecutive session, offloading a net 373 billion won worth of stocks on the main bourse. Institutions turned net buyers, purchasing a net 132 billion won, while retail investors scooped up a net 170 billion won.

Most large-cap shares gained ground.

Top cap Samsung Electronics moved up 1.05 percent to 48,300 won, and major chipmaker SK hynix rose 3.22 percent to 83,300 won.

No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor jumped 1.77 percent to 86,400 won, while auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis advanced 1.8 percent to 170,000 won.

The country's top steelmaker POSCO surged 5.14 percent to 163,500 won, and leading chemical firm LG Chem gained 1.34 percent to 303,500 won.

However, top pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics shed 2.96 percent to 443,000 won, while cosmetics giant AmorePacific plunged 3.37 percent to 172,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,210.6 won against the U.S. dollar, sharply up 22.2 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 0.7 basis point to 1.060 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond shed 1.9 basis points to 1.266 percent.
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