Stocks rise to a near two-year high on U.S. stimulus hopes
Stocks gained ground for a third consecutive session on Wednesday to close at the highest level in nearly two years, as investor sentiment was buoyed by progress in U.S. stimulus, analysts said. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi gained 31.89 points, or 1.4 percent, to finish at 2,311.86. Trading volume was high at 830 million shares worth 17.6 trillion won ($14.8 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 434 to 400.
The closing was the highest since 2,338.88 points hit on Oct. 1, 2018.
Analysts said Seoul shares gained ground on reports that the United States is inching closer to rolling out stimulus measures to help the world's top economy recover from the pandemic.
"South Korean investors are keeping a watchful eye on the U.S. job reports as well as the upcoming stimulus measures," said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co. "Investors are also seeking profits after a recent rally."
Foreigners offloaded a net 51.8 billion won, while individual investors scooped up a net 429 billion won. Institutions sold a net 363 billion won.
Most large-cap shares ended in positive territory.
Samsung Electronics closed 0.7 percent lower at 56,900 won, as investors sat on the sidelines over the new mobile devices that will be unveiled later in the day.
Hanmi Pharmaceutical shot up by the daily limit of 29.91 percent to 360,500 won. The company said it has exported technology for a liver treatment drug material to Merck Sharp & Dohme.
Pharmaceutical firms gained. Samsung Biologics advanced 7.07 percent to 787,000 won, and Celltrion rose 4.3 percent to 315,000 won.
Auto shares also gained. Hyundai Motor inched up 1.13 percent to 134,000 won, and Hyundai Mobis advanced 2.16 percent to 212,500 won.
Naver climbed 0.8 percent to 313,500 won, while its smaller rival Kakao rose 0.14 percent to 370,500 won.
The Kosdaq spiked 1.43 percent to close at 847.28.
The local currency closed at 1,188.80 won against the dollar, down 5.30 won from the previous session.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds fell 0.9 basis points to 0.795 percent, and the yield on ten-year government bonds shed 5.0 basis points to 0.5 percent.
BY KANG JAE-EUN, YONHAP [email@example.com]