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Seoul shares close higher on IMF’s positive growth forecast

South Korean stocks closed higher for the third straight day Wednesday, helped by an improved economic growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund and a stable exchange rate stance by Japan, analysts said. The Korean won closed lower against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 6.53 points, or 0.33 percent, to 1,970.42. Trading volume was low at 235.9 million shares worth 3.42 trillion won ($3.20 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 413 to 369.

Analysts said Seoul shares moved up modestly, bolstered by an IMF prediction that the global economy will accelerate to 3.7 percent growth in 2014 from 3 percent last year, with the advanced economies likely to experience meaningful gains.

The Bank of Japan’s stance to stay pat on its monetary easing program helped bolster investor sentiment, they said.

“The announcements by the IMF and BOK stabilized the market and contributed to buying up of stocks by institutional and foreign investors,” Lim Dong-rak, a researcher at Hanyang Securities Co., said. But many investors are still waiting on the sidelines ahead of earning reports by big companies, he said.

Foreigners bought a net 11.4 billion won worth of shares, with individual investors shedding 67.9 billion won in stocks.

Institutions, on the other hand, bought 52.1 billion won more shares than they sold.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics edged up 0.30 percent to 1,328,000 won after choppy trading, with smaller rival LG Electronics remaining flat at 69,600 won. Top chipmaker SK hynix, however, gave up 0.27 percent to 36,300 won. (Yonhap News)