South Korean stocks began higher Wednesday, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, as investors were buoyed by encouraging remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama before his State of the Union address, analysts said.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 5.58 points, or 0.29 percent, to 1,951.37 in the first 15 minutes of trading.
Most shares trended upwards, with brokerage houses and insurance companies driving up the index. No. 2 brokerage firm KDB Daewoo Securities rose nearly 2 percent with industry leader Samsung Life Insurance adding 1.5 percent.
U.S. stocks rose to a five-year high on Tuesday on the back of forecast-beating corporate earnings and as investors awaited the presidential speech.
In contrast, some large caps lost ground. Tech giant Samsung Electronics fell 0.5 percent with the world's largest shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries slipping 0.3 percent.
The local currency was trading at 1,087.00 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.8 won from Tuesday's close. (Yonhap News)