South Korean stocks gathered ground for the third consecutive session on Wednesday to close at the highest level in nearly two years, as investor sentiment was buoyed by progress in US stimulus moves, analysts said. The Korean won rose against the greenback.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 31.89 points, or 1.4 percent, to finish at 2,311.86. Trading volume was high at 830 million shares worth 17.6 trillion won ($14.8 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 434 to 400.
The closing marks the highest since 2,338.88 points on Oct. 1, 2018.
Analysts said Seoul shares gathered ground on reports that the US is inching closer to rolling out stimulus measures to help the world's top economy recover from pandemic jitters.
Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved up 0.62 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 0.35 percent.
"South Korean investors are keeping a watchful eye on the US job reports as well as the upcoming stimulus measures," said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co. "Investors are also seeking after profits after a recent rally."
Foreigners offloaded a net 51.8 billion won, while individual investors scooped up a net 429 billion won. Institutions sold a net 363 billion won.
Market kingpin Samsung Electronics closed 0.7 percent lower at 56,900 won, as investors sat on the sidelines over the new mobile devices that will be unveiled later in the day.
Hanmi Pharmaceutical shot up by the daily permissible limit of 29.91 percent to 360,500 won. The company on Tuesday said it has exported technology for a liver treatment drug material to leading global drugmaker Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD).
Other pharmaceutical firms were also among major gainers, with Samsung Biologics advancing 7.07 percent to 787,000 won and Celltrion rising 4.3 percent to 315,000 won.
Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor added 1.13 percent to 134,000 won, and its auto parts arm Hyundai Mobis advanced 2.16 percent to 212,500 won.
Top portal operator Naver climbed 0.8 percent to 313,500 won, while its smaller rival Kakao rose 0.14 percent to 370,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,188.80 won against the US dollar, up 5.30 won from the previous session.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 0.7 basis point to 0.795 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond shed 1 basis point to 1.045 percent. (Yonhap)