Seoul stocks hit six-week high on U.S. stimulus hopes

SEOUL-- South Korea's benchmark stock index closed at the highest point in six weeks Friday on strong foreign and instutional buying amid hopes for a massive infrastructure project in the United States. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 25.4 points, or 0.82 percent, to close at 3,112.8 points, the highest number since Feb. 17.

Trading volume was moderate at about 781 million shares worth some 13.2 trillion won (US$11.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 450 to 371.

Foreigners bought a net 564 billion won and institutions purchased a net 372 billion won, while retail investors sold 950 billion won.

Stocks traded bullish, aided by market optimism over a US$2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal in the U.S., which local investors hailed as a source of momentum to help the global economy recover from the pandemic.

"Local stocks gained mostly on the U.S. infrastructure spending project, the stabilized yields of the U.S. Treasury notes and the improved March exports," Hana Financial Investment analyst Lee Young-gon said.

Forecasts of earnings hike also lifted the stock prices ahead of the upcoming earnings reports season.

Auto shares performed particularly strong on speculation of global sales hike in the first quarter.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor jumped 6.62 percent to 233,500 won, and internet portal operator Naver edged up 0.26 percent to 379,500 won.

Top cap Samsung Electronics added 2.29 percent to 84,800 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix advanced 0.36 percent 141,000 won.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem gained 1.1 percent to 828,000 won, but pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics lost 0.4 percent to 744,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,127.5 won against the U.S. dollar, up 4.4 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 1.3 basis points to 1.151 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bond lost 0.5 basis point to 1.575 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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