Seoul shares up on foreign buying, Samsung rise

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks snapped the two-day losing streak to close higher Thursday as foreigners went into buying mode despite worries over a recession reignited by weak U.S. economic data, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) advanced 12.02 points, or 0.51 percent, to close at 2,380.34. Trading volume was moderate at 364 million shares worth 5.36 trillion won (US$4.34 billion) with gainers outnumbering decliners 473 to 362.

"Weak U.S. economic data fueled concerns over a recession, and that is not a good thing for South Korea that is highly dependent on exports," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities Co., said. "But the extended foreign buying helped the main index eke out gains."

Foreigners bought a net 580 billion won worth of local equities, extending the buying binge to the seventh consecutive session. Thursday's net purchase marked the largest amount in eight trading days.

Institutions and individual investors, on the other hand, sold off a net 260 billion won and a net 315 billion won, respectively.

Domestic-focused stocks, notably mobile carriers, insurance companies and utility providers, were among the gainers.

KT, a major telecom company, jumped 3.3 percent to 36,050 won and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance soared 2.22 percent to 207,500 won.

State-run Korea Electric Power Corp. also rose 0.74 percent to 20,300 won.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics jumped 1.82 percent to 61,500 won. Top chemical producer LG Chem gained 1.31 percent to 621,000 won.

In contrast, auto and financial stocks finished in negative terrain. Top player Hyundai Motor shed 0.3 percent to 164,000 won and leading banking firm KB Financial sank 2.22 percent to 57,200 won.

The local currency ended at 1,232.10 won against the U.S. dollar, up 5.3 won from Wednesday's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed sharply higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys dipped 14.2 basis points to 3.248 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds fell 13 basis points to 3.223 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency