SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks opened higher Wednesday after overnight Wall Street gains, as investors pinned their hopes on a U.S. stimulus deal.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 14.31 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,771.13 in the first 15 minutes of trading.

The KOSPI rebounded after a two-session retreat, despite the country’s surging COVID-19 cases.

Stocks increased on rosy expectations of a Santa rally, in addition to anticipations that the world’s largest economy would hasten a deal before its previous benefits expire by the end of the year.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.13 percent, following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comment that lawmakers would have to stay in Washington until the US$748 billion relief deal is clinched. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.25 percent, with the S&P 500 climbing 1.29 percent.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 0.14 percent, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix traded flat.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem rose 1.12 percent, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI moved up 0.54 percent.

Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics retreated 0.25 percent, and Celltrion lost 0.56 percent.

Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest carmaker, gained 1.59 percent.

Internet portal giant Naver added 0.71 percent, with its rival Kakao moving up 0.67 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,089.4 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.9 won from the previous session’s close.