South Korean stocks closed higher Monday as the weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data curbed concerns that its central bank may speed up the tapering of its quantitative easing, analysts said. The Korean won closed higher against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 10.38 points, or 0.54 percent, to 1,948.92. Trading volume was low at 263.9 million shares worth 3.31 trillion won ($3.14 billion) with gainers outpacing losers 450 to 360.
Analysts said Seoul shares gathered ground as the dull U.S. jobs data eased concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve may come up with a stronger tapering plan for its stimulus moves later this month.
The U.S. added 74,000 jobs in December, hovering far below the market estimate of 197,000.
The Fed, which has operated an $85 billion monthly bond-buying program in a bid to boost the U.S. economy by keeping interest rates low, announced last month that it would begin reducing bond purchases by $10 billion per month starting in January, citing signs of an economic recovery.
"Although investors were worried that the Federal Open Market Committee meeting slated for Jan. 28-29 could come up with an additional tapering plan, the weak jobs data curbed such concerns," said Kim Joo-hyung, an analyst at Tong Yang Securities Co.
Analysts added the local stock market also gathered ground as investors went bargain-hunting amid the recent decline in blue chips.
Foreigners offloaded 89.9 billion won worth of Seoul shares on the main bourse. In contrast, individual investors and institutions scooped up a net 21.3 billion won and 67.4 billion won, respectively Tech shares led the market gain, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics rising 1.81 percent to 1,295,000 won and its smaller rival LG Electronics climbing 0.61 percent to 65,900 won.
Carmakers also gathered ground, with No. 1 Hyundai Motor moving up 3.17 percent to 228,000 won and its affiliate Hyundai Mobis increasing 2.19 percent to 279,500 won. Kia Motors gained 1.74 percent to 52,500 won.
Leading mobile carrier SK Telecom climbed 1.8 percent to 226,000 won, and its smaller rival KT added 0.96 percent to 31,600 won. LG Uplus, the smallest player, gained 2.8 percent to 11,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,056.70 won to the U.S. dollar, up 4.70 won from Friday's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys moved down 0.02 percentage point to 2.89 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds shed 0.03 percentage point to 3.24 percent. (Yonhap News)