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Seoul shares rally to record high

Korean stocks rose 0.93 percent to a record high on Monday as foreigners and institutions snapped up shares on expectations for a rally at the start of the year, analysts said. The local currency gained against the U.S. dollar.

On the first trading session, the benchmark KOSPI surged 19.08 points to 2,070.08, renewing its previous record close of 2,064.85 on Oct. 31, 2007. Trading volume was moderate at 344 million shares worth 5.8 trillion won ($5.1 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 490 to 336.

“The upbeat momentum from 2010 continued into this year,” said Hwang Keum-dan, an analyst at Samsung Securities Co. “The KOSPI’s recent steep climb may pressure some investors to sell, but it seems that more investors are determined to see the main stock index add gains.”

Other analysts also voiced hopes for further climbs.
Industry and government officials including Financial Services Commission Chairman Kim Seok-dong (center) and Korea Exchange CEOKim Bong-soo (second from left) open the stock market for 2011 at the Korea Exchange on Monday. Seoul stocks rose 0.93 percent to a record high 2,070.08 points on the first trading day of 2011. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Industry and government officials including Financial Services Commission Chairman Kim Seok-dong (center) and Korea Exchange CEOKim Bong-soo (second from left) open the stock market for 2011 at the Korea Exchange on Monday. Seoul stocks rose 0.93 percent to a record high 2,070.08 points on the first trading day of 2011. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

“A combination of strong corporate earnings, continued foreign buying and enhanced corporate competitiveness raises hope for additional climbs (in the stock market),” said Daishin Securities Co. analyst Lee Jong-pil in a report.

Tech shares led the surge with market bellwether Samsung Electronics adding 0.95 percent to 958,000 won and chip giant Hynix Semiconductor jumping 5.42 percent to 25,300 won.

“Foreigners beefed up their holdings on leading sectors such as technology, chemical and auto,” said Hwang.

Financial heavyweights lent support with KB Financial Group, the parent of top lender Kookmin Bank, rising 3 percent to 61,800 won.

Shares of automakers also gathered ground after the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group pledged to raise global sales to more than 6 million this year. The automotive group’s flagship unit, Hyundai Motor, gained 2.02 percent to 177,000 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors rose 3.75 percent to 52,500 won.

Shipmakers, however, lost ground with Hyundai Heavy Industries, the country’s largest shipyard, slipping 1.81 percent to 435,000 won. (Yonhap News)

The local currency ended at 1,126.5 won to the greenback, up 8.3 won from Thursday’s close, as Korea’s upbeat stock market and trade surplus prompted investors to unload the U.S. dollar, dealers said. 

(Yonhap News)
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