SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks snapped a two-session losing streak to end higher Wednesday, buoyed by strong gains in tech and auto stocks, ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 15.91 points, or 0.52 percent, to close at 3,100.58 points.

Trading volume was high at about 2.13 billion shares worth some 18.07 trillion won (US$16.32 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 486 to 334.

Foreigners picked up a net 753.5 billion won, while institutions offloaded a net 918.6 billion won. Retail investors purchased a net 132.3 billion won.’

The key index traded choppy early in the session before gathering ground to end in positive terrain ahead of the holiday period, which runs from Thursday to Sunday. South Korean markets will be closed Thursday and Friday.

“Auto and tech stocks, such as Naver and Kakao, made strong gains, showing that there are upbeat expectations for their performance,” Meritz Securities analyst Kang Bong-ju said. “Better-than-expected earnings for the final quarter last year from South Korean companies overall also seem to have been factored in today’s session.”
   Most large caps in Seoul ended higher.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics lost 1.33 percent to 81,600 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 0.4 percent to 126,000 won.

Internet portal giant Naver jumped 2.23 percent to 366,500 won, and rival Kakao surged 6.18 percent to 489,500 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 3.59 percent to 245,000 won, and affiliate Kia added 1.77 percent to 86,400 won.

Leading chemical maker LG Chem retreated 1.34 percent to 960,000 won, while rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI climbed 1.42 percent to 783,000 won

Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics edged down 0.37 percent to 799,000 won, while Celltrion rose 1.22 percent to 332,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,107.0 won to the U.S. dollar, up 9.6 won from the previous session’s close.