Seoul shares end 1.15 % higher on US data
Korean stocks closed 1.15 percent higher on Friday as stronger U.S. jobs data eased concerns about the recovery of the world's largest economy, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 20.85 points to 1,839.96, breaking the third straight session of falls.
Trading volume was moderate at 483.5 million shares worth 4.3 trillion won ($3.7 billion) with gainers outpacing losers 492 to 342.
"Better-than-expected data on U.S. job markets gave some solace to investors. But the Seoul bourse also staged a technical rebound as retail investors hunted for bargains," said Kwak Joong-bo, a market analyst at Samsung Securities Co.
Kwak said the Seoul bourse is likely to trade in a tight range next week as it is not easy to find conspicuous upward momentum for the stock market.
Stronger-than-expected jobs data in the U.S. raised hopes about the growth pace of the world's largest economy. The number of people who applied for new claims for jobless benefits fell to a more than 3-year low last week.
Foreign investors became net buyers of local stocks for the first time in four sessions. They picked up a net 25.1 billion won worth of local stocks on the main bourse.
Financial shares gained ground. Top banking group Woori Finance advanced 1.26 percent to 9,620 won and its rival Shinhan Financial Group added 1.71 percent to 38,650 won.
After trading higher, mid-sized life insurer Tong Yang Life Insurance closed flat at 15,100 won. Share prices of the insurer rose as much as 2.65 percent at one point after Hanwha Group said it is considering purchasing the life insurance firm.
Hanwha Group has a life insurance affiliate under its wing and market watchers said the group's potential takeover of Tong Yang Life Insurance will help Hanwha's insurance unit grow into the second-ranked industry player.
Market leader Samsung Electronics rose 2.96 percent to 1,045,000 won and top automaker Hyundai Motor advanced 2.46 percent to 208,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,158.60 won to the greenback, up 4.4 won from Thursday's close, as foreign investors reduced their holdings of local stocks, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed unchanged. The yield on three-year Treasuries closed flat at 3.33 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds also ended unchanged at 3.48 percent. (Yonhap)