S. Korean shares up 0.62 pct ahead of Yellen's speech
SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed 0.62 percent higher Tuesday as downbeat U.S. economic data raised questions over a near-term rate increase by the Federal Reserve, boosting appetite for riskier assets, analysts said. The local currency rose against the greenback.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 12.37 points to close at 1,994.91. Trade volume was slim at 377.9 million shares worth 4 trillion won (US$3.43 billion), with gainers beating decliners 531 to 261.
Foreigners turned to net buyers after U.S. data released on Monday indicated signs of weakness in consumer spending and retreating inflation.
The index moved in a tight range as investors were waiting for a speech from Fed Chair Janet Yellen scheduled on Tuesday in New York for clues of the timing of the next rate decision.
"The dollar further weakened following the dull U.S. economic data," Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Bookook Securities, said. "With a lack of momentum for the time being, investors will pay attention to the macroeconomic indicators due later this week for signs of fundamentals of the U.S. economy."
Foreigners scooped up a net 147.58 billion won, while institutions and retail investors each offloaded a net 25.86 billion won and 184.96 billion won.
Securities and machinery stocks led the gains, while foodmakers and insurers weighed down the index.
Top market cap Samsung Electronics fell 0.31 percent to 1,290,000 won, and No. 1 cosmetic producer AmorePacific inched down 0.26 percent to 386,000 won.
State-run Korea Electric Power Corp. rose 2.05 percent to 59,800 won, and leading automaker Hyundai Motor edged up 0.65 percent to 155,000 won.
Doosan Group shares rallied following new chairman Park Jeong-won's vow to speed up restructuring measures after taking office in the group's fourth generational transfer of power.
Doosan Heavy Industries, the nation's top power equipment maker, rose 4.16 percent to 21,300 won, and No. 1 construction equipment maker Doosan Infracore jumped 9.8 percent to 6,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,163.8 won against the U.S. dollar, up 2.4 won from Monday's close.