South Korean stocks rallied more than 1 percent Monday, finishing at their highest level in more than six weeks, as Samsung Electronics, the country's top market cap, surged on the back of an upbeat earnings forecast. The Korean won rose against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 32.14 points, or 1.35 percent, to close at 2,418.21, after soaring to as high as 2,418.24 at one point. Trade volume was moderate at 231.8 million shares worth 5.1 trillion won ($4.52 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 439 to 358.
The local stock market opened higher as the US stock market closed at a fresh record high last week, with the S&P 500 inching up to surpass the 2,500-point mark for the first time.
"The rally was led by tech shares, especially Samsung, amid a rosy outlook over the rising prices of semiconductors," said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co. "With the US stocks setting new records, there is a possibility of local shares going further up."
Foreign investors scooped up a net 213 billion won in local stocks, while individuals and institutions sold a net 153 billion won and 81 billion won, respectively.
Most market heavyweights traded mixed, with kingpin Samsung Electronics finishing at a fresh record high of 2,624,000 won, up 4.13 percent.
SK hynix, a major chipmaker, also jumped 3.24 percent to end at a fresh all-time high of 79,700 won.
Financial shares were also among the gainers with Shinhan Financial moving up 1.38 to end at 51,600 won and Samsung Life Insurance rising 0.85 percent to close at 118,000 won.
LG Chem, South Korea's top chemicals firm, meanwhile, surrendered 1.5 percent to close at 395,000 won. AmorePacific, the country's No. 1 cosmetics firm, gained 0.4 percent to end at 251,000 won.
No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor climbed 0.37 percent to end at 137,000 won, but its smaller affiliate Kia Motors shed 1.13 percent to 30,550 won.
The local currency closed at 1,126.60 won against the US dollar, up 5.10 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 0.3 basis point to 1.742 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds advanced 1.1 basis point to 1.960 percent. (Yonhap)