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Seoul stocks vault to an almost 2-year high on eased uncertainties

South Korean stocks rose to the highest level in almost two years on Monday on increased risky appetites following eased political chaos in Asia's fourth-largest economy and sound economic data in the US The Korean won sharply rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index advanced 20.24 points, or 0.97 percent, to close at 2,117.59. Trade volume was moderate at 378 million shares worth 4.57 trillion won ($3.99 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 458 to 366.

Monday's closing is the highest since April, 15, 2015, when the comparable figure was 2,117.59 points.

The local stock market opened higher as market uncertainties eased to some degree after the Constitutional Court ruled last week to oust the now former President Park Geun-hye.

Park was impeached by parliament on Dec. 9 on charges of letting a close friend meddle in state affairs, colluding with her to extort money from conglomerates and neglecting her duties during a 2014 ferry sinking that killed more than 300.

Also, strong job data in the US stoked risky bets, but analysts said investors may be on the sidelines ahead of the US Federal Reserve's rate-setting meeting this week.

"Political uncertainty has been alleviated, and extended foreign buying is helping the local market continue its upward trend," said Kim Yong-koo, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment & Securities.

Most market heavyweights closed higher with banking and tech stocks leading the market gain.

Foreign investors snatched up a net 455 billion won worth of local stocks, extending their buying streak to a sixth day, while institutional investors offloaded a net 215 billion won.

Top cap Samsung Electronics gained 1.05 percent to a record high of 2,030,000 won, while SK hynix, a major chipmaker, rose 3.66 percent to 51,000 won.

LG Electronics, a major home appliance maker, was 1.87 percent higher at 65,300 won on hopes that its latest high-end smartphone, the G6, will sell more than expected.

KB Financial advanced 3.47 percent to end at 50,700 won, while Shinhan Financial gained 3.59 percent to end at 49,050 won.

Hyundai Motor, the country's leading automaker, remained unchanged at 146,000 won.

China-exposed stocks rebounded.

AmorePacific, the country's No. 1 cosmetics maker, closed at 277,500 won, up 1.83 percent, and LG Household & Health Care, the No. 2 player in the country's cosmetics industry, moved up 2.62 percent to 821,000 won.

Kumho Tire, the nation's No. 2 tiremaker, climbed 6.69 percent to end at 8,770 won as its creditors signed a 955 billion won deal to sell it to a Chinese firm.

The local currency closed at 1,144.40 won against the US dollar, up 13.00 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 1.5 basis points to 1.765 percent, while the return on benchmark five-year government bonds fell 0.3 basis point to 1.992 percent. (Yonhap)