South Korean shares rose to the highest level in 44 months on Friday as investors took heart over the upbeat outlook of corporate earnings, analysts said. The Korean won lost against the greenback.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index increased 28.89 points, or 1.4 percent, to end at 2,087.76. Trading volume was heavy at 647.1 million shares worth 5.31 trillion won ($4.85 billion), with gainers surpassing decliners 509 to 313.
The intra-day gain was the biggest in nearly three weeks, raising up the total market capitalization to a historic high at 1,304 trilli won.
Analysts said ample liquidity stemming from low interest rates at home and quantitative easing in Europe also boosted investors' appetites for risky assets.
"Major market players were on a buying spree with abundant liquidity, which was buttressed by rising expectations for strong earnings by blue-chip shares," Cho Byung-hyun, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Korea, said. "Institutions, which had dragged down the market, also turned to net buyers as they believe there is still room for a further rise."
Foreigners and retail investors each bought a net 282.6 billion won and a net 5.8 billion won, while retail investors offloaded a net 282.9 billion won.
Brokerages and cosmetics led the overall market gains.
Brokerage houses gained on hopes of improved earnings as low interest rates lured more investors to the local stock market.
Daishin Securities soared 8.66 percent to 15,050 won, and Hyundai Securities vaulted 11.29 percent to 10,650 won.
Cosmetics shares were up. Amore Pacific, the nation's biggest cosmetics maker, jumped 7.8 percent to 3,553,000 won, hitting a fresh yearly high. LG Household & Health Care, a unit of LG Group, increased 4.89 percent to 836,000 won.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics edged up 0.47 percent to 1,490,000 won as the tech giant released its new Galaxy smartphones in 20 countries, seeking to boost its earnings with the flagship products.
SK hynix, the world's second-largest chipmaker, increased 4.06 percent to 43,600 won, snapping a three-day losing streak.
The local currency closed at 1,092.7 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.4 won from Thursday's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended lower. The yield on three-year Treasury bonds rose 1.6 basis points to 1.714 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds increased 1.2 basis points to 1.796 percent. (Yonhap)