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Seoul stocks close at all-time high on improved growth forecast

Electronic signboards at the trading room of Hana Bank in Seoul show the benchmark Kospi closed at 2,625.91 on Thursday, up 24.37 points or 0.94 percent from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)
Electronic signboards at the trading room of Hana Bank in Seoul show the benchmark Kospi closed at 2,625.91 on Thursday, up 24.37 points or 0.94 percent from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)
South Korean stocks closed at a fresh all-time high Thursday as the central bank's revised growth forecast boosted investor sentiment, despite an eight-month high in daily virus cases here. The Korean won rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 24.37 points, or 0.94 percent, to close at 2,625.91 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 1.4 billion shares worth some 12.5 trillion won ($11.3 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 433 to 393.

Foreigners sold a net 254 billion won, and retail investors purchased a net 257 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 527 billion won.

Stocks got off to a weak start on Wall Street losses that stemmed from disappointing US economic indices but gained ground as the Bank of Korea (BOK) slightly revised up this year's economic outlook.

The BOK revised up this year's economic growth outlook to a 1.1 percent contraction, up from the previous forecast of a 1.3 percent retreat. Next year's forecast was also raised to a 3 percent expansion, up from the previous 2.8 percent growth forecast.

In a widely expected move, the BOK froze the key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent.

"The BOK's growth revision and advances by certain virus-favorable stocks seem to have pulled up the local stocks again," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.

Tech and battery heavyweights performed strong amid concerns of the third wave of COVID-19 infections.

South Korea added 583 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, the highest daily increase since March.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 2.1 percent to 68,000 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 2.26 percent to 99,400 won.

Leading chemical maker LG Chem jumped 3.55 percent to 816,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI hiked 2.23 percent to 550,000 won.

Internet portal giant Naver advanced 2.51 percent to 285,500 won, with its rival Kakao moving up 1.91 percent to 374,000 won.

Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics shed 0.5 percent to 799,000 won, and Celltrion slipped 0.15 percent to 320,500 won.

Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, fell 0.28 percent to 179,000 won, and top steelmaker Posco declined 1.02 percent to 242,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,104.6 won per dollar, up 4.3 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1 basis point to 0.981 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 2.5 basis points to 1.333 percent. (Yonhap)
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