South Korean stocks closed 0.79 percent higher Thursday as investors' sentiment was heightened by the Unites States' optimistic job data, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) moved up 14.48 points, or 0.79 percent, to close at 1,839.14. Trading volume was moderate at 309 million shares worth 3.09 trillion won (US$2.71 billion) with gainers outpacing losers 481 to 316.
"Seoul shares gathered ground on the back of improved U.S. economic data and the slowing pace of the Japanese yen's depreciation against the greenback," said Kim Sun-young, a researcher at IBK Investment & Securities Co.
Companies added 188,000 new jobs to the private sector in the U.S. last month, hovering above the market estimate of 160,000, according to the ADP Research Institute. The figure came to 134,000 in May.
"However, the market gain was limited as investors also remained concerned about political uncertainties in Egypt and Portugal," Kim added.
Foreigners dumped more shares than they bought at 84.7 billion won. In contrast, individuals scooped up a net 2.7 billion won and institutional investors purchased a net 83.8 billion won.
Mobile carriers gathered ground, with No. 1 player SK Telecom adding 3.71 percent to 209,500 won and KT climbing 2.57 percent to 35,900 won. LG Uplus, the smallest player, advanced 3.27 percent to 12,650 won.
Insurers closed higher, with Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance rising 4.93 percent to 245,000 won and Hanwha Life Insurance moving up 2.48 percent to 6,620 won. Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance added 1.47 percent to 31,050 won.
Retailers also closed bullish, with Lotte Shopping adding 3.77 percent to 357,500 won and discount chain operator E-Mart rising 2.53 percent to 203,000 won. Hyundai Department Store climbed 0.98 percent to 154,000 won.
Tech shares traded mixed, with chip maker SK hynix closing flat at 28,750 won and top flat panel manufacturer LG Display adding 0.94 percent to 26,900 won. Market behemoth Samsung Electronics gained 1.23 percent to 1,317,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,139.40 won against the greenback, up 4.30 won from the previous trading session on the market outlook that the U.S. may post a lower-than-expected economic growth down the road, dealers said. (Yonhap News)