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(LEAD) Seoul stocks close higher on institutional buying

2018/05/18 16:19

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(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at the bottom)

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished higher on Friday as institutional buyers scooped up large-cap shares on news that China had offered to reduce its trade surplus with the United States. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 12.2 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 2,460.65. Trade volume was moderately high at 424.4 million shares worth 6.3 trillion won (US$6.1 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 608 to 225.

The Seoul index opened higher despite losses on Wall Street. On Thursday (local time), the S&P shed 0.09 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.21 percent, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 0.22 percent.

"Eased worries over the U.S.-China trade war lifted major Asian stocks, including South Korea," said Lee Kyung-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities.

Most large-cap shares ended mixed.

Tech shares ended higher, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics adding 0.2 percent to close at 49,500 won after opening lower. SK hynix, a major chipmaker, gained 1.38 percent to end at 87,900 won.

Shares of pharmaceutical companies gained ground with Samsung BioLogics, a biopharmaceutical affiliate of Samsung Group, moving up 2.64 percent to end at 408,000 won. The company and financial authorities held their first session a day earlier to review a regulatory probe into suspected accounting breaches at the company.

Celltrion also added 0.93 percent to end at 270,000 won.

Auto stocks ended higher, with leading automaker Hyundai Motor adding 0.33 percent to 150,000 won and its sister company, Kia Motors, moving up 0.75 percent to 33,750 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis was up 0.63 percent to 239,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,077.6 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.6 won from Thursday's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 3.1 basis points to 2.231 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds also shed 3.7 basis points to 2.514 percent.