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Seoul stocks rise 0.51% on institutional buying

South Korean stocks closed higher Monday as institutional buying offset foreign selling amid eased uncertainties following the United States' decision not to designate South Korea as a currency manipulator. The Korean won rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 10.88 points, or 0.51 percent, to close at 2,145.76. Trade volume was moderate at 255.70 million shares worth 3.63 trillion won ($3.2 billion), with advancers outnumbering decliners 627 to 169.

Analysts said the gains were also helped by easing tensions over the ongoing deployment of the terminal high altitude area defense system in South Korea to counter missile threats from North Korea. 

A White House foreign policy advisor traveling with Vice President Mike Pence to Asia was quoted as telling reporters that the issue of completing the THAAD installation is up to South Korea's next president.

Depending on major companies' first-quarter earnings results set to be released starting next week, the main index may test the 2,150 level in coming weeks, analysts said.

On Monday, institutional investors bought stocks worth 267 billion won, offsetting foreign selling valued at 114.62 billion won. Individuals offloaded 161.15 billion won worth of stocks keeping the main index from rising further.

Auto, financial and defensive stocks led the gains throughout the session. But tech shares limited gains.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor rose 1.05 percent to 144,000 won, industry leader Samsung Life climbed 1.85 percent to 110,000 won and No. 1 cosmetics company AmorePacific jumped 5.35 percent at 285,500 won.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics fell 1.09 percent to 2,078,000 won, with chipmaker SK hynix declining 1.20 percent at 49,200 won.

The local currency closed at 1,137.70 won against the US dollar, up 2.30 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 0.4 basis point to 1.673 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bond shed 0.9 basis point to 1.850 percent. (Yonhap)
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