SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks opened higher Wednesday on strong advances by auto-related shares.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 21.65 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,118.46 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

The KOSPI continued its bullish run after gaining over 4 percent in total in the past two sessions, backed by investor optimism over a fast economic recovery, particularly in exports.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor hiked 3.33 percent, with its smaller affiliates Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis jumping 7.63 percent and 5.23 percent, respectively.

Samsung Electronics edged up 0.12 percent, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix advanced 0.38 percent.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem gained 1.76 percent, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI climbed 0.53 percent.

Giant pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics slipped 0.12 percent, with Celltrion retreating 2.11 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,113.8 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.9 won from the previous session’s close.