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Seoul shares gain 0.38 pct amid U.S. policy woes

South Korean stocks closed 0.38 percent higher Wednesday as investors remained anxious over the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary meeting on a stimulus cut, analysts said. The local currency gathered ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 7.82 points to finish at 2,059.58. Trading volume was light at 258.0 million shares worth 4.06 trillion won (US$3.82 billion) with gainers outnumbering losers 450 to 351.

Analysts said the KOSPI continued its rangebound trading with a light turnover on worries that the Fed may give fresh indications on tapering the bond-buying program. But foreigners' brisk buying binge, which marks its 44th consecutive session, lent support to the main index's gains, they said.

"Investors know that the Fed will stay on with the delay (of the tapering), but they just need to make sure they hear from them once again," said Kim Ji-hyung, an analyst at Hanyang Securities Co.

Overseas investors scooped up a net 62.5 billion won on the main bourse, with institutions increasing their bets with a net 12.3 billion won. Retail investors, however, sold off a net 78.4 billion won.

Foodmakers and tech companies drove up shares. Orion, a major confectioner, shot up 3.41 percent to 1,032,000 won and chip giant SK hynix hiked 2.82 percent to 32,850 won.

Financial shares also finished bullish. No. 2 lender KB Financial Group rose 2.17 percent to 42,400 won and its rival Hana Financial Group advanced 2.49 percent to 41,100 won.

In contrast, auto and telecom shares fell. Kia Motors, South Korea's smaller automaker, slid 1.75 percent to 61,900 won and top mobile carrier SK Telecom dipped 2.75 percent to 230,000 won.

The local currency ended at 1,060.20 won against the greenback, up 0.4 won from Tuesday's close, largely due to the KOSPI's gain, dealers said. (Yonhap News)

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