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Seoul shares likely to remain rangebound next week

South Korean stocks are expected to move in a tight range next week as investors wait for the upcoming earnings season that will start with Samsung Electronics' earnings estimate later in the week, analysts said.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 2,045.42 on Friday, up 1.3 percent from a week earlier. 

The index started off on a positive note on anticipation that Beijing will take additional measures to spur growth. It slipped on Thursday as both institutions and foreigners unloaded their shares but rebounded on Friday on eased uncertainties over Iran's nuclear talks with Western economies.

Shares of brokerages were among the biggest gainers on expectations that they are ready to benefit from ample liquidity and a bullish run on the local stock market. In contrast, shares of apparel and fiber makers retreated.

Analysts projected investors to step to the sidelines next week as they wait for first-quarter business results and the central bank's monetary policy meeting on April 9.

"The KOSPI is likely to trade in the 2,000 to 2,050-point range amid jitters over corporate earnings," said Ko Seung-hee, an analyst at KDB Daewoo Securities Co.

"But if Samsung Electronics' earnings estimate beats market expectations, it will boost anticipation for the earnings season."

Samsung Electronics, the country's biggest market-cap firm, is forecast to release its first-quarter earnings guidance next week.

Analysts forecast the tech behemoth to have posted an operating profit of 5.41 trillion won (US$4.96 billion) in the first quarter, up 2.4 percent from the previous quarter, according to the median estimate compiled by market tracker WISEfn.

The central bank, meanwhile, is scheduled to hold its monthly rate-setting meeting on Thursday, with most analysts predicting a rate freeze following an unexpected rate cut in March. (Yonhap)

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