March 22, 2018 / 7:04 AM / 6 months ago

S.Korean stocks at 7-week closing high, won ends flat in volatile session

* KOSPI index climbs to 7-week closing high, foreigners buy

* Korean won holds flat versus U.S. dollar

* South Korea bond yields down

SEOUL, March 22 (Reuters) - South Korean stocks hit a seven-week closing high on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised its base rate overnight and signalled two more rate hikes this year, which was regarded less hawkish than expected by market players.

The Korean won, however, had a volatile day as investors’ appetite weakened due to heightened worries over trade war between the United States and China.

“The currency started with gains at the opening of the trade but gradually gave up gains as trade issues raised market worries,” said Yoo Shinik, chief economist at Shinhan Bank, adding that there was also a rumour going on that some foreign investors will be selling off their fund holdings in South Korea.

Yoo said that, however, such sell-off does not seem to be connected with the Fed rate hike, which has already been priced in enough.

Round-up of South Korean financial markets: ** South Korea’s KOSPI stock index ended at its highest since Feb. 2 on Thursday. The Korean won barely moved from its previous close while bond yields fell. ** At 06:30 GMT, the KOSPI was up 11.05 points, or 0.44 percent, at 2,496.02. ** The won was quoted at 1,072.7 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.04 percent weaker than its previous close at 1,072.3. ** In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,071.25 per U.S. dollar, down 0.67 percent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,056.95 per dollar. ** MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.08 percent, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with losses. Japanese stocks rose 0.99 percent. ** The KOSPI is up around 0.7 percent so far this year, and up by 1.60 percent in the previous 30 days. ** The current price-to-earnings ratio is 12.10, the dividend yield is 1.28 percent and the market capitalisation is 1,242.04 trillion won. ** The trading volume during the session on the KOSPI index was 475,166,000 shares, and of the total traded issues of 888, the number of advancing shares was 336. ** Foreigners were net buyers of 208,596 million won worth of shares. ** The U.S dollar has risen 0.46 percent against the won this year. The won’s high for the year is 1,056.67 per dollar on Jan. 14, 2018 and low is 1,098.4 on Feb. 6, 2018. ** In money and debt markets, June futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.11 points to 107.52. ** The Korean 3-month Certificate of Deposit benchmark rate was quoted at 1.65 percent, while the benchmark 3-year Korean treasury bond yielded 2.258 percent, lower than the previous day’s 2.29 percent. (Reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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