SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks broke the 2,800 mark for the first time Thursday to close at an all-time high, as the country’s additional deals to purchase COVID-19 vaccines boosted hopes for a faster-than-expected economic recovery. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 47.04 points, or 1.7 percent, to close at 2,806.86.
Trading volume was moderate at about 1 billion shares worth some 20 trillion won (US$18.1 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 593 to 246.
Foreigners bought a net 111 billion won, while retail investors sold a net 750 billion won. Institutions purchased a net 631 billion won.
The key index started off firm after Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the country signed deals to buy COVID-19 vaccines from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.
South Korea struck a deal for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine last month.
The government plans to sign a deal for Moderna’s vaccine next month and start its vaccination program in the second quarter of next year.
The country has experienced a surge in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, prompting the government to roll out stronger antivirus measures, such as banning private gatherings of five or more people.
Large caps lifted on strong foreign and institutional buying in particular.
“Foreign and institutional buying increased in the top caps, such as LG Chem, Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, leading the KOSPI’s gain,” said Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young.
“The buying seems largely affected by expectations of the dividend day next week,” he added.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics spiked 5.28 percent to 77,800 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 1.72 percent to 118,000 won.
Leading chemical maker LG Chem rose 1.49 percent to 818,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI hiked 1.62 percent to 563,000 won.
Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics slipped 0.25 percent to 794,000 won, and Celltrion shed 2.11 percent to 347,500 won.
Internet portal giant Naver retreated 0.7 percent to 282,000 won, with its rival Kakao losing 0.93 percent to 374,000 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, moved up 1.08 percent to 187,000 won, and top steelmaker POSCO advanced 1.31 percent to 271,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,103.0 won per dollar, up 4.9 won from the previous session’s close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1.8 basis points to 0.950 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 3.5 basis points to 1.314 percent.