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Seoul shares end higher on blue chip gains

2018/02/14 16:01

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SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed a holiday-shortened week on a positive note Wednesday, helped by overnight gains on Wall Street, with bio shares leading the gains. The Korean won firmed against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index soared 26.64 points, or 1.11 percent, to close at 2,421.83. Trade volume was slim at 301.97 million shares worth 5.77 trillion won (US$5.35 billion), with winners outnumbering losers 431 to 373.

Most market heavyweights traded bullish across the board as major U.S. indices extended gains for a third straight session following last week's slump. The turnover was relatively slim as investors were in a wait-and-see mode ahead of U.S. inflation data due out later in the day.

"The U.S. market became less volatile, helping ease jittery investor sentiment in the local equity market," said Kim Ye-eun, an analyst at IBK Securities. "Foreigners supported the market index as they picked up large market caps, but uncertainties remain ahead of the interest rate hike in the U.S."

   Foreigners and institutions each bought a net 105.61 billion won and 114.94 billion won worth of local stocks, respectively, while retail investors dumped a net 211.18 billion won to lock in recent gains.

Bio shares rallied as investors bet on positive corporate news.

Celltrion, a major pharmaceutical firm, jumped 6.29 percent to 312,500 won, after the company said its biosimilar received EU approval for treatment of early breast cancer. Samsung Biologics, Samsung's health care unit, increased 1.75 percent to 436,000 won.

Tech shares were mixed.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics Co. gained a hefty 3.07 percent to 2,450,000 won, while SK hynix, a memory chip giant, inched down 0.13 percent to 77,600 won.

Lotte Group shares declined after its chairman was sentenced to 30 months in prison for bribery charges Tuesday.

Lotte Corp., the holding firm of the South Korean retail giant, dropped 6.17 percent to 62,300 won, and Lotte Shopping retreated 2.28 percent to 214,000 won.

Korea Electric Power Corp., the state-run power provider, declined 1.19 percent to 33,100 won after posting weak fourth-quarter operating earnings.

The local currency closed at 1,077.2 won against the dollar, up 7.3 won from the previous session's close.

ejkim@yna.co.kr

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