March 9, 2018 / 7:20 AM / in 10 months

S.Korean stocks race to 5-week high as Trump agrees to meet N.Korean leader

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SEOUL, March 9 (Reuters) - South Korean shares jumped to a five-week high on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, potentially marking a breakthrough in nuclear tensions with Pyongyang.

Trump’s agreement for a face-to-face encounter with Kim boosted risk appetite globally, setting up a solid session for the Seoul market, with South Korea’s North-exposed shares leading the way.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ended up 1.1 percent at 2,459.45 points, its highest closing level since Feb. 5.

For the week, the index gained 2.4 percent, reversing last week’s losses.

Hyundai Elevator Co., the biggest stakeholder in Hyundai Asan that has in the past engaged in a number of North Korea-related projects, jumped 22.6 percent.

Shares of Hotel Shilla surged over 10 percent, while cosmetics company Amorepacific rose 4.2 percent.

Tech giant Samsung Electronics was also among the strong performers, up 1.1 percent, but steelmaker Posco dropped 3.6 percent on lingering worries over Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Foreign investors added a net 198.6 billion won worth of KOSPI shares to their portfolios on Friday.

The South Korean won, however, held steady as the dollar’s strength kept the local currency in check.

The won was quoted at 1,069.8 to the dollar at the conclusion of onshore trade, barely changed compared with Thursday’s close of 1,070.2.

The currency rose nearly 1 percent on a weekly basis. (Reporting by Dahee Kim Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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