SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks set another all-time high Thursday despite a resurgence in new coronavirus cases, led by strong advances by chip and auto heavyweights. The Korean won sharply rose to an almost 30-month high against the U.S. greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 20.32 points, or 0.76 percent, to close at 2,696.22.

Stock trading hours were pushed back by 1 hour due to the nationwide college entrance exam.

Trading volume was moderate at about 810 million shares worth some 15.4 trillion won (US$14.1 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 469 to 369.

Foreigners bought a net 212 billion won, and retail investors purchased a net 179 billion won. Institutions sold a net 388 billion won.

The KOSPI gained for a third consecutive session, briefly surging as high as 2,704.02 toward the session’s close.

Trading of stocks, as well as the exchange traded fund (ETF) and bond markets, will begin at 10 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m., the Korea Exchange (KRX) said in a statement.

After a choppy morning, stocks gained ground on strong gains by South Korea’s two largest chipmakers, Samsung Electronics and SK hynix. Both firms closed at their all-time highs on brisk November exports and rosy forecasts for next year.

Stellar auto shares also lifted the stock index.

“Foreigners bought auto-related stocks as carmakers reported robust vehicle sales in the domestic market in November despite the pandemic,” Shinhan Financial Investment analyst Choi Yoo-joon said.

The combined domestic sales by five homegrown carmakers in November jumped 5 percent on-year, according to data from the companies.

Large caps closed higher in Seoul.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 0.29 percent to record 69,700 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix hiked 2.29 percent to an all-time high of 111,500 won.

Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest carmaker, spiked 7.67 percent, helped by expectations on its new EV platform technologies.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem moved up 0.59 percent to 846,000 won, while rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI closed unchanged at 552,000 won.

Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics advanced 1.9 percent to 805,000 won, while Celltrion rose 1.15 percent to 351,000 won.

Internet portal giant Naver went up 1.23 percent to 287,000 won, with its rival Kakao gaining 0.27 percent to 374,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,097.0 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.8 won from the previous session’s close and the highest since June 14, 2018, when the comparable figure was 1,083.1 won.