Korean stocks closed 0.22 percent higher on Thursday as investor sentiment was lifted by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s vow to keep its bond-buying program to support an economic recovery, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 4.55 points to 2,115.01, the fourth straight session of gains.
Trading volume was moderate at 347.3 million shares worth 7.22 trillion won ($6.48 billion), but losers outnumbered gainers 441 to 352.
“Hopes for the U.S. economic stimulus and eased concerns over China’s monetary tightening gave solace to investors,” said Han Beom-ho, a market analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.
“The market has momentum for the upward movement, but the key index will likely face volatility for the time being ahead of the New Lunar Year holiday.” This year’s holiday falls on Feb. 2-4.
U.S. markets closed higher on Wednesday as the U.S. Federal Reserve pledged to maintain its second round of quantitative easing through June.
The KOSPI touched a record high of 2,121.06 during the morning session on the back of foreign buying, but its earlier gains were reduced in late trading as institutional investors turned to net sellers.
No. 3 refiner S-Oil jumped 11.96 percent to 110,500 won after saying that it swung to profit in the fourth quarter on improved refining margins, and industry leader SK Innovation gained 4.75 percent on 198,500 won, helped by higher oil prices.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor fell 0.76 percent to 196,000 won despite its strong earnings results. Hyundai Motor posted record earnings of 1.4 trillion won in the fourth quarter on the back of brisk sales in domestic and overseas markets.
Tech and financial shares lost ground. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 0.4 percent to 994,000 won and flat panel giant LG Display fell 2.63 percent to 38,850 won.
The local currency ended at 1,114.40 won to the dollar, up 1.6 won from Wednesday’s close, as foreign investors picked up local stocks, dealers said.
A sustained trend of the current account surplus also added upward pressure on the local currency, they added. The Bank of Korea said earlier in the day that Korea posted the fourth-largest ever current account surplus in 2010 on robust exports. (Yonhap News)