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Seoul shares up 0.35 pct on China, U.S. data
SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed 0.35 percent higher Thursday as investors' sentiment was boosted by better-than-expected economic data from China and the United States, analysts said. The local currency ended flat against the U.S. dollar.

   The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 6.71 points to close at 1,920.74. Trading volume was moderate at 330.3 million shares worth 3.56 trillion won (US$3.17 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 420 to 371.

   Analysts said Seoul shares gathered ground as China posted better-than-expected economic data for July, indicating the country's economy may be on the recovery path. China is the biggest trading partner of South Korea.

   The Chinese government said Thursday that the country's purchasing managers index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector came to 50.3 in July, a tad higher than the market estimate of 49.8.

   The PMI is an index that measures the health of a country's manufacturing sector. A reading of 50 or above represents an expansion of the sector from the previous month while a reading of below 50 represents a contraction.

   The better-than-expected economic growth for the April-June period posted by the U.S. also added to investors' sentiment, analysts added.

   The U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic performance, advanced 1.7 percent in the second quarter from three months earlier, hovering above a 1-percent market forecast made earlier.

   Meanwhile, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting had only a limited impact on the market as it did not come up with new details on the future policy moves on quantitative easing. The FOMC held its two-day regular monetary meeting earlier this week.

   "While the FOMC did not come up with details on the possible reduction in its quantitative easing moves, it can also be understood that the U.S. will maintain the current economic stimulus for the time being," said Ma Joo-ok, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co.

   Foreigners scooped up more shares than they sold at a net 60.8 billion won. In contrast, individuals and institutions offloaded a net 56.8 billion won and 5.1 billion won, respectively.

   Tech shares closed mixed, with top chipmaker SK hynix adding 0.74 percent to 27,400 won, while local handset maker LG Electronics lost 1.37 percent to 71,900 won. Market behemoth Samsung Electronics closed unchanged at 1,280,000 won.

   Insurers gathered ground, with Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance rising 3.12 percent to 247,000 won and Hanwha Life Insurance increasing 3.56 percent to 6,980 won.

   Carmakers traded lower, with No. 1 Hyundai Motor falling 0.43 percent to 231,500 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors losing 0.31 percent to 63,500 won. Hyundai's auto parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis moved down 1.82 percent to 269,000 won.

   The local currency ended at 1,123.50 won against the greenback, closing unchanged from the previous trading session amid abated woes over the possible cut in the U.S. stimulus for the time being, dealers said.