South Korean stocks closed 0.5 percent higher Thursday in the face of dashed hopes for additional credit easing in the U.S. and fresh woes over the eurozone debt problem, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
Reversing earlier losses, the benchmark KOSPI gained 10.16 points to close at 2,028.77.
Trading volume was moderate at 541 million shares worth 5.64 trillion won ($5 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 442 to 358.
The KOSPI opened weak as investor sentiment was spooked by weaker demand at a Spanish debt auction and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s reluctance to add more monetary stimulus. But gains in tech firms and automakers helped the index close higher.
“Spain is emerging as a new source of the eurozone debt problem, stoking fresh concerns over the debt crisis,” said Hwang Na-young, an analyst at Taurus Securities.
The analyst, however, said the Spain case is not worse than the situation in Greece and would have a limited impact on the global economy.
Song Sang-hoon, an analyst at Kyobo Securities, said investor sentiment got a boost from eased concerns over a hard landing of the Chinese economy and an upbeat earnings forecast for automakers.
Tech firms, steelmakers and automakers finished in positive terrain, and some defensive stocks also closed higher.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 0.76 percent to close at 1,330,000 won. SK hynix, the world’s No. 2 memory chipmaker, rose 1.53 percent to end at 29,850 won.
South Korea’s leading automobile exporters also jumped, backed by strong March sales in the recovering U.S. auto market and their rosy earnings outlook.
Industry leader Hyundai Motor jumped 4.14 percent to end at 264,000 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors advanced 3.32 percent to end at 80,900 won.
Hyundai Mobis, the country’s leading auto parts maker, also soared 6.38 percent to end at 308,500 won.
Some defensive shares rose with KT&G, the country’s leading cigarette maker, gaining 2.83 percent to end at 80,000 won.
NHN, the nation’s leading internet portal operator, also advanced 8.09 percent to end at 274,000 won.
But other large-cap shares closed mixed.
Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, dropped 1.25 percent to close at 316,500 won, but its smaller rival Samsung Heavy Industries rose 0.67 percent to end at 37,700 won.
POSCO, the country’s leading steelmaker, slipped 0.8 percent to close at 372,000 won, while Hyundai Steel gained 2.44 percent to end at 105,000 won.
The local currency finished at 1,127.30 won to the greenback, up 2.2 won from Wednesday’s close, as investors bet on risky assets, dealers said.