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Shares up on foreign buying

South Korean stocks closed higher on Monday thanks to net buying by foreign investors and institutions, who kept alive last week’s modest growth momentum. The South Korean won gained against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index, starting the day in positive territory, gave up some of its gains to end at 1,946.36, up 0.31 percent, or 6.08 points, from Friday’s close. Trading volume on the main market was relatively light at 211.72 million shares, with 3.36 trillion won ($3.16 billion) worth of stocks changing hands. Reflecting the rise, share prices of 477 companies rose, while those of 333 fell.

The market kept alive gains reached last week with investors largely buoyed by a rise in stock prices in the U.S., which tends to influence the KOSPI.

Foreign investors and institutions were net buyers that contributed to the market’s rise, while private investors sold off more than they bought as they moved to cash in gains.

“The market was led by foreign investors and institutions that bought shares following the KOSPI’s overall decline in the past few months,” said Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at I’M Securities & Investment Co.

He, however, said more time is needed to determine if the latest buoyancy in the market is indicative of actual strengthening of the bourse.

Others said China’s bank lending numbers for January, which surpassed earlier expectations, and stronger growth numbers in Europe played a role in pushing up the KOSPI. (Yonhap)