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S.Korea KOSPI climbs to 7-mth closing high on financials
March 14, 2012 / 8:03 AM / 6 years ago

S.Korea KOSPI climbs to 7-mth closing high on financials

* Fed outlook, retail data sparks offshore bids
    * Financials lead as U.S. banks pass stress test
    * Shipmakers sail high on brighter export outlook
    * Samsung Elec touches all-time intraday high

    By Joonhee Yu	
    SEOUL, March 14 (Reuters) - Seoul shares rose nearly 1
percent to close at a fresh 7-month high on Wednesday, buoyed by
financials after U.S. stocks posted their best day of the year
on upbeat retail sales data and an improved economic outlook
from the Federal Reserve.	
    The Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 0.99 percent to
close at 2,045.08 points, paring back some of its early gains to
ease back just short of the key 2,050-point chart level, but
still good enough to set its highest close since last August.	
    "Confidence in the U.S. economic recovery is running high,
and with the euro zone fears out of the main picture for now,
shares finally look like they're ready to break out of the lull
and ride the liquidity wave once more," said Park Kang-ho, an
analyst at Daishin Securities.	
    The U.S. central bank slightly upgraded its economic outlook
on Tuesday saying it expects "moderate" growth over the coming
quarters, while gains in U.S. retail sales were the highest in
five months.    	
    Spearheading the rally were financials, after their Wall
Street peers lifted U.S. stocks to their best performance in
2012. In the United States, most major banks passed a Fed stress
test with flying colors and JPMorgan's dividend hike bolstered
investor confidence in the financial sector. 	
    Woori Finance Holdings was the highlight
performer among bank shares, gaining 4 percent on hopes of a
renewed privatisation push after sources said on Tuesday an
extension deal with sales managers was in the works. South
Korea's top regulator had announced on Monday that it was
restarting the bidding process for Woori. 	
    KB Financial Group shares rose 3.85 percent
while Korea Exchange Bank climbed 3.12 percent.	
    Shipbuilders lent strong support with analysts seeing
increased export orders, especially from the Middle East. Daewoo
Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering rallied 4.54
percent while Samsung Heavy Industries soared 4.77
percent.	
    Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which
accounts for 10 percent of the KOSPI's market capitalisation,
closed 2.38 percent higher after gaining as much as 2.78 percent
earlier in the session to touch a record intraday high. 	
    Foreign investors picked up a net 517.2 billion won ($461.1)
worth of shares, the largest daily net inflow from offshore
players in two weeks.	
    Trading activity picked up after the recent lull, with 534.8
million shares exchanging hands on the main bourse while winning
shares outnumbered decliners 462 to 359.	
    The KOSPI 200 index rose 1.11 percent while the
junior, tech-heavy KOSDAQ inched up 0.07 percent.	
    The broader KOSPI index has risen more than 12 percent this
year, and most analysts see the index constrained between 2,050
and 2,100 unless good corporate earnings provide new momentum.	
    	
         Move on day                +0.99  percent  	
         12-month high   2,231.47   27  April 2011  	
         12-month low    1,644.11   26  Sept  2011  	
         Change on yr               +12.01 percent  	
         All-time high   2,231.47   27  April 2011  	
         All-time low      93.10    6 January 19	
    
($1 = 1121.600 Korean Won)	
	
 (Reporting by Joonhee Yu; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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