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Seoul shares gain 1.2 pct on bargain hunting

South Korean stocks gained 1.2 percent Tuesday, as investors hunted for bargains on upbeat corporate results by local companies, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) advanced 23.35 points to close at 1,963.95. Trading volume was moderate at 387.6 million shares worth 4.57 trillion won ($4.15 billion) with gainers far outstripping decliners 502 to 284.

"Large-cap shares got a boost as we began to see more firms reporting better quarterly figures toward the end of this month compared with the beginning of the earnings season," said Kim Hyung-ryeol, an analyst at Kyobo Securities Co.

Lackluster performance by some builders and chemical companies weighed down the KOSPI, adding to concerns other industry sectors may also post weak earnings, but it turned out otherwise, Kim noted.

Net buying by foreigners and institutions drove up the main index, with a net 24.3 billion won and a net 350.1 billion won each.

Most shares finished in positive terrain, with large-cap exporters leading the climb. Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics jumped 2.63 percent to 1,520,000 won and Hyundai Motor rose 1.27 percent to 199,500 won.

LG Uplus, South Korea's smallest mobile carrier, soared 5.8 percent to 10,400 won, after it said its first-quarter earnings tripled.

In contrast, domestic-oriented stocks closed the session bearish, with state-run electricity provider Korea Electric Power Corp. dipping 2.31 percent to 31,650 won and Lotte Shopping falling 0.84 percent to 411,000 won.

The local currency ended at 1,101.20 won against the greenback, up 6.0 won from Monday's close, on the back of strong foreign buying of local equities, dealers said.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasuries slid 0.03 percentage point to 2.49 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds also fell 0.03 percentage point to 2.56 percent. (Yonhap News)

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