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Seoul stocks up for 4th day on hopes for virus slowdown


South Korean stocks ended higher Tuesday, extending their gains to a fourth straight session as investor sentiment improved over signs that the spread of the coronavirus could be slowing. The Korean won sharply rose against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 31.72 points, or 1.77 percent, to 1,823.60.

Huh Jae-hwan, a strategist at Eugene Investment Co., said expectations for the slowing spread of the coronavirus in the United States and Europe pushed up the main index.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the US and Europe has shown signs of a slowdown. In South Korea, new infection cases stayed below 50 for the second straight day, although its total cases topped 10,000.

Individuals and institutional investors bought a combined 185.9 billion won ($152.2 million) worth of stocks. Foreign investors sold a net 196.7 billion won, extending their selling streak to a 24th session.

Market heavyweights closed mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. rose 1.85 percent to 49,600 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. was up 3.25 percent to 85,800 won, and top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. gained 1.8 percent to 90,400 won.

Among decliners, South Korea's top online portal operator Naver fell 2.02 percent to 169,500 won, and leading refiner SK Innovation Co. was down 0.11 percent to 94,300 won.

The local currency closed at 1,221.20 won against the US dollar, up 8.1 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 0.5 basis point to 1.047 percent, but the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 1.6 basis points to 1.318 percent. (Yonhap)