(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom, photo)
SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks snapped a two-session losing streak on Friday, helped by strong foreign buying that offset individuals’ profit-taking rush. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 6.23 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 2,412.40.
Trading volume was moderate at about 744 million shares worth some 13.7 trillion won (US$11.8 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 433 to 416.
After a 1.22 percent drop in the previous session, the KOSPI switched between gains and losses multiple times around the 2,400-level.
Investor sentiment was divided over tech valuation worries, roiled by the Nasdaq Composite’s 1.27 percent fall overnight.
“Strong foreign buying of chemicals, tech and manufacturing eventually bolstered the KOSPI (against individuals’ profit-taking),” said Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young.
Foreign investors bought a net 144 billion won, while retail investors sold a net 140 billion won and institutions offloaded a net 17 billion won.
In Seoul, battery large caps closed higher, while auto-related shares dipped.
Leading chemical company LG Chem jumped 3.26 percent to 666,000 won, a day after it announced its decision to spin off its battery business in December to further strengthen its leading position in the sector amid growing demand for electric vehicle batteries.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor lost 1.63 percent to 181,000 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors shed 1.44 percent to 47,800 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis retreated 0.83 percent to 240,000 won.
Tech top cap Samsung Electronics slid 0.34 percent to 59,300 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix added 1.82 percent to 83,700 won.
Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics edged up 0.13 percent to 758,000 won, while Celltrion closed flat at 291,500 won.
Internet portal giant Naver fell 0.83 percent to 298,000 won, but its rival Kakao hiked 0.54 percent to 373,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,160.30 won against the U.S. dollar, up 14.1 won from the previous session’s close.
It is the first time that the U.S. greenback has plunged to the 1,160-won level since late January.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 0.7 basis point to 0.907 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 0.1 basis point to 1.198 percent.