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Seoul shares open higher on U.S. economic optimism

   South Korean stocks started higher on Thursday as investor sentiment got a boost from Wall Street gains sparked by growing optimism about the U.S. economic recovery, analysts said.

   The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) advanced 11.36 points, or 0.57 percent, to trade at 2,000.47 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

   Tech shares were in focus with market leader Samsung Electronics rising 1.6 percent and bank issues brushed off the news that the state financial regulator suspended operations of two ailing savings banks, hit by sour property-linked loans.

   U.S. markets gained ground on Wednesday after U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers upgraded their 2011 prospects for the world's largest economy to a range of 3.4 to 3.9 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.5 percent and the tech-laden Nasdaq composite advanced 0.76 percent.

   The local currency was changing hands at 1,115.60 won to the U.S. dollar as of 9:15 a.m., up 4.70 won from Wednesday's close.

(Yonhap News)

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