Seoul shares reach 3-week high on stimulus hopes, currency moves

Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:08am EDT

Related Topics

* Upcoming stimulus measures bolster risk appetite

* Won near sweet spot for forex gains from S.Korean stocks

* Brokerage shares rise as benchmark vaults 2,000 points

SEOUL, March 29 (Reuters) - South Korean shares rose on Friday after the new government pledged stimulus measures to revive the sputtering economy and on hopes that the local currency was stabilising.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed up 0.6 percent at 2,004.89 points, its highest close since early March.

"Expectations for stimulus measures to be announced in April have supported stocks, while foreign investors' recent selloff streak saw a pause due to the won's movement," said Lee Da-seul, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities.

The government sharply cut this year's economic growth forecast on Thursday and pledged stimulus measures including an extra budget over the coming weeks to pull the economy out of a slump.

The South Korean won was quoted at 1,110.9 against the dollar as of 0647 GMT.

It has lost nearly 4 percent against the dollar so far this year but its descent has been showing signs of slowing of late. Traders say it may now be in a "sweet spot", encouraging foreign investors to buy into local shares to take advantage of potential foreign exchange gains.

Large-caps were mixed, but heavyweight Samsung Electronics led gains by rising 1.1 percent, extending gains from the previous session. Hyundai Motor also edged up 0.2 percent.

Shares in local brokerages rose as sentiment was bolstered by the benchmark index topping the 2,000 level, with Mirae Asset Securities up 5.2 percent while Woori Investment & Securities rose 2.6 percent.

Foreign and local institutional investors purchased a net 165.3 billion Korean won ($148.57 million) worth of KOSPI shares, lifting the index.

Advancing shares outnumbered decliners 528 to 281.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.6 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ rose 0.4 percent.

Move on day +0.6 percent

12-month high 2,057.28 14 March 2012

12-month low 1,769.31 25 July 2012

Change on yr -1.3 percent

All-time high 2,231.47 27 April 2011

All-time low 93.10 6 January 1981 ($1 = 1112.6000 Korean won) (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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