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Seoul shares up 0.14 pct on U.S. data
SEOUL, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed 0.14 percent higher Friday on better-than-expected economic data from the United States, analysts said. The local currency ended lower against the U.S. dollar.

   The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 2.64 points to close at 1,923.38. Trading volume was low at 293.6 million shares worth 3.98 trillion won (US$3.54 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 460 to 321.

   "The better-than-expected manufacturing data from the U.S. and China added to investor sentiment over an economic recovery down the road," said Kim Sung-young, a researcher at IBK Investment & Securities Co.

   The U.S. Institute for Supply Management (ISM) index, a key barometer of the country's manufacturing activity, came to 55.4 in July, hovering far above the market expectation of 52.

   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.

   U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday also on improved job data, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding 0.83 percent to reach an all-time high, and tech-laden NASDAQ composite index also advanced 1.36 percent.

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

   Foreigners scooped up more shares than they sold at a net 56.3 billion won. In contrast, individuals and institutions offloaded a net 49.8 billion won and 4.3 billion won, respectively.

   Tech shares closed bullish, with leading Samsung Electronics rising 0.47 percent to 1,286,000 won, and flat panel maker LG Display adding 0.18 percent to 28,250 won.

   Brokerage houses also closed higher, with Samsung Securities rising 0.86 percent to 46,450 won and KDB Daewoo Securities advancing 0.5 percent to 10,050 won. Woori Investment & Securities climbed 0.84 percent to 12,000 won.

   Carmakers traded stagnant despite their robust sales tallied in July, with No. 1 player Hyundai Motor closing unchanged at 231,500 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors falling 1.89 percent to 62,300 won.

   Hyundai Motor said Thursday that its sales jumped 9.4 percent in July from a year earlier as its strong overseas sales helped offset a slight drop in the domestic market.

   Builders closed lower, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction losing 0.17 percent to 59,300 won and Daewoo Engineering & Construction falling 1.57 percent to 7,520 won.

   The local currency ended at 1,123.60 won against the greenback, down 0.10 percent from the previous trading session amid the improved economic data from the U.S., dealers said.