Stocks listed on the local markets closed higher Thursday on the back of rising hopes of an economic recovery in advanced nations, analysts said. The optimism more or less overshadowed concerns of political instability in Ukraine, and also of a slowdown in the Chinese economy.
The South Korean won closed slightly stronger against the greenback.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index moved up 13.66 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,977.97. Trading volume was low at 212 million shares worth 3.88 trillion won ($3.61 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 400 to 391.
Seoul shares opened almost flat amid the rising woes that the U.S. and European countries may impose sanctions on Russia over the Crimean annexation, with U.S. President Barack Obama implying possible harsher regulation in the energy sector, which weighed down on investor sentiment.
Analysts, however, said the local stock market gathered ground later in the trading session due to a rosy outlook over the U.S. economy, while some believed the Russian market was not significant enough to change the course of the global economic recovery.
“Investors, however, should still be cautious,” said Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at I’M Investment & Securities Co. “The latest U.S., Chinese and European Purchasing Managers Index estimates are hovering below market expectations.”
The PMI is an index that measures the health of a country’s manufacturing sector. A reading of 50 or above represents an expansion of the sector from the previous month, while a reading below the figure represents a contraction.
Foreigners bought a net 240.6 billion won while individuals offloaded a net 211.2 billion won. Institutions sold more shares than they bought at 42.7 billion won.
Carmakers traded higher, with No. 1 Hyundai Motor advancing 1.23 percent to 246,000 won and its auto parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis rising 1.44 percent to 317,000 won. Kia Motors moved up 0.84 percent.
Mobile carriers also closed bullish, with No. 1 SK Telecom rising 2.1 percent to 219,000 won and KT advancing 1.36 percent to 29,900 won. LG Uplus climbed 0.48 percent to 10,450 won.
Tech shares traded mixed, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics rising 3.74 percent to 1,333,000 won while chipmaker SK hynix shed 1.82 percent to 37,700 won. LG Electronics climbed 0.16 percent to 64,000 won.
Builders also closed mixed, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction adding 0.54 percent to 55,900 won while Daweoo Engineering & Construction shed 0.13 percent to 7,920 won. KEPCO Plant Service & Engineering Co. rose 0.61 percent.
The local currency ended at 1,071.50 won to the U.S. dollar, up 3.50 won from Wednesday’s close.
By Bae Hyun-jung and news reports