(LEAD) Seoul shares inch up on Wall Street gains
SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks ended 0.15 percent higher on Friday as overnight gains on Wall Street boosted market sentiment here, offsetting falls in high-dividend stocks, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 2.98 points to 2,002.28. Trading volume was light at 203 million shares worth 2.89 trillion won (US$2.75 billion), with gainers outnumbering decliners 425 to 374.
Analysts said another strong performance of the U.S. stock market are stoking hopes for rallies next year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 0.75 percent to 16,479.88 on Thursday, finishing at a record high for the sixth straight session.
"Some high-dividend stocks fell sharply, but overseas investors' buying of some big market cap shares outweighed their drops," said Park Moon-seo, an analyst at KTB Investment & Securities.
Tech shares led the gains, with SK hynix rising 1.81 percent to close at 36,650 won and LG Electronics gaining 0.89 percent to end at 68,300 won.
The country's top portal operator, Naver, jumped 2.8 percent to close at 734,000 won, but market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 0.85 percent to end at 1,396,000 won.
Shipbuilders and automakers finished in positive terrain. Top shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries advanced 0.39 percent to close at 256,000 won, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering climbed 2.06 percent to end at 34,700 won.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor soared 1.77 percent to close at 229,500 won, and its affiliate Kia Motors rose 1.08 percent to close at 55,900 won.
In contrast, high-dividend stocks underperformed the KOSPI as they went ex-dividend, which means investors who buy those shares during the remainder of the year become ineligible to receive dividends.
Top mobile operator SK Telecom slumped 3.19 percent to 227,500 won, and No. 2 mobile carrier KT fell 0.79 percent to end at 31,050 won.
KT&G, the country's leading tobacco manufacturer, also sank 4.23 percent to close at 74,700 won.
Institutional investors sold a net 73 billion won, while foreigners and retail investors bought a net 73.3 billion won and 28 billion won, respectively.
The local currency ended at 1,053.90 won against the greenback, up 5.4 won from Thursday's close, as local exporters sold U.S. dollars for year-end settlements, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys dropped 0.05 percentage point to 2.83 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds also sank 0.04 percentage point to close at 3.18 percent.