South Korean stocks closed 0.58 percent higher Monday, extending their rally to a ninth session, as eased US inflation outlook boosted investor appetite for risky assets ahead of the earnings season. The local currency rose against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index advanced 13.77 points to close at 2,399.86. Trading volume was moderate at 509.6 million shares worth 6.46 trillion won ($5.23 billion), with gainers outpacing decliners 499 to 350.
"US stocks closed higher on the back of data showing improved consumer sentiment, and that gave support to the Korean stock market today," Mirae Asset Securities Co. analyst Seo Sang-young said.
"But uncertainties linger, as the earnings season is about to kick off, with many companies expected to post lackluster fourth-quarter results," Seo said.
All major US stock indexes closed higher Friday, with the S&P 500 and tech-rich Nasdaq hitting the highest level in a month, buoyed by expectations the Fed could ease its interest rate hikes after consumer prices rose at the slowest pace in 14 months.
A survey by the University of Michigan indicated the US consumer sentiment was improving. The one-year inflation forecast fell to the lowest level in January since early 2021.
In Seoul, foreigners and institutions were net buyers of local equities, scooping up a net 288 billion won and 222 billion won, respectively. Individual investors sold off a net 491 billion won.
Financial and IT service sectors led Kospi's gain. Leading banking firm KB Financial soared 4.5 percent to 60,000 won, and its rival Shinhan Financial spiked 6.7 percent to 43,800 won. Internet bank Kakao Bank also jumped 4.6 percent to 29,450 won.
Internet portal provider Naver gained 2.8 percent to 200,500 won, and platform giant Kakao climbed 4 percent to 64,500 won.
Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics rose 0.5 percent to 61,100 won. Top battery maker LG Energy Solution added 0.5 percent to 480,500 won.
In contrast, automakers and bio companies finished in negative terrain. Hyundai Motor slipped 1.5 percent to 166,500 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia dropped 1 percent to 64,600 won.
Samsung Biologics shed 0.5 percent to 807,000 won, and biopharmaceutical giant Celltrion also lost 0.6 percent to 168,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,235.30 won against the US dollar, up 6 won from Friday's close. (Yonhap)