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Seoul shares to rise, but Libya, Europe woes may limit gains

South Korean stocks are forecast to trend higher next week, shrugging off concerns of Japan's March 11 earthquake, but other external uncertainties such as the Libyan unrest and Europe's debt risks may trim gains, analysts said Saturday.

   Despite the ongoing aftermath of Japan's earthquake, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 2,054.04 on Friday, up 72.91 points, or 3.68 percent, from one week ago.

   Foreigners drove up the KOSPI, snapping up 1.13 trillion won

(US$1.02 billion) worth of local shares.   By sector, shares of automakers jumped 8.75 percent from the previous week on rosy outlooks for first-quarter earnings. Food and beverage companies, which saw a rise in demand following Japan's quake, surged 5.6 percent.

   Experts said the KOSPI is likely to move upwards toward the 2,100 mark next week, but recommended investors to keep an eye on how Libya's political instability and Europe's debt woes improve.

   Some, meanwhile, said the impact of external uncertainties may be smaller than expected.

   "Worries over Europe's debt risks are subsiding. The ongoing crisis in the Middle East may turn into a long-term issue, but it is unlikely the situation will spin out of control," said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at Daewoo Securities Co.

   "The KOSPI, however, may see technical hurdles following its recent upward momentum," added Lee.
The country's main stock index gained for two straight weeks.



   (Yonhap News)

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