Seoul stocks up ahead of Lunar New Year break
Stocks snapped a two-session losing streak to end higher Wednesday, buoyed by strong gains in tech and auto stocks, ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. The won rose against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi rose 15.91 points, or 0.52 percent, to close at 3,100.58 points.
Trading volume was high at about 2.13 billion shares worth some 18.07 trillion won ($16.32 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 486 to 334.
Foreigners picked up a net 752.7 billion won, while institutions offloaded a net 918.6 billion won. Retail investors purchased a net 132.3 billion won.
The key index traded choppy early in the session before gathering ground to end in positive terrain ahead of the holiday period, which runs from Thursday to Sunday. Korean markets will be closed Thursday and Friday.
"Auto and tech stocks, such as Naver and Kakao, made strong gains, showing that there are upbeat expectations for their performance," Meritz Securities analyst Kang Bong-ju said. "Better-than-expected earnings for the final quarter last year from Korean companies overall also seem to have been factored in today's session."
Most large caps in Seoul ended higher.
Samsung Electronics lost 1.33 percent to 81,600 won, while chipmaker SK hynix gained 0.4 percent to 126,000 won.
Internet portal giant Naver jumped 2.23 percent to 366,500 won, and rival Kakao surged 6.18 percent to 489,500 won.
Online game maker NCSoft gained 2.09 percent to 1,027,000 won, while its rival Netmarble added 1.1 percent to 138,000 won.
Hyundai Motor gained 3.59 percent to 245,000 won, and affiliate Kia added 1.77 percent to 86,400 won.
Chemical maker LG Chem retreated 1.34 percent to 960,000 won, while rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI climbed 1.42 percent to 783,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics edged down 0.37 percent to 799,000 won, while Celltrion rose 1.22 percent to 332,000 won.
The Kosdaq rose 6.46 points, or 0.67 percent to close at 964.31.
The local currency closed at 1,107.0 won to the dollar, down 9.6 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on the three-year bond added 0.6 basis points to close at 0.996 percent, and the yield on the 10-year bond lost 0.6 basis points to close at 1.15 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]