SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks closed at a nearly two-year high Friday on advances in chipmakers, backed by massive foreign buying amid the resurgence of the new coronavirus around the globe. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 18.25 points, or 0.74 percent, to close at 2,493.87 points.

Trading volume was high at about 1.1 billion shares worth some 16.8 trillion won (US$15.1 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 530 to 299.

“Today’s trading started off weak from the global resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, but finished in positive terrain on strong foreign buying,” said Daeshin Securities analyst Lee Kyung-min.

“Foreigners’ top picks included top cap stocks such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, SK hynix and LG Chem,” he added.

Foreigners raked in a net 523 billion won, extending their buying streak to a seventh consecutive session. Institutions bought 94 billion won, while retail investors sold a net 589 billion won.

South Korea’s prime minister said the government would have to “seriously consider” toughening its social distancing scheme, as the country’s new daily cases spiked to almost 200 on Friday, the highest in 70 days.

Investors were also concerned about the economic fallout from the new coronavirus.

In Seoul, most large caps closed higher.

Top cap Samsung Electronics spiked 3.61 percent to 63,200 won, the highest closing ever. No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 1.82 percent to 89,700 won.

Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest carmaker, advanced 2.01 percent to 177,500 won.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem rose 1.88 percent to 705,000 won, but rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI dipped 2.72 percent to 501,000 won.

Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics climbed 0.53 percent to 757,000 won, but Celltrion retreated 0.68 percent to 290,000 won.

Internet portal giant Naver gained 0.72 percent to 281,000 won, and its rival Kakao advanced 2.24 percent to 365,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,115.6 won against the U.S. dollar, down 0.8 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 0.4 basis point to 0.965 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 2.1 basis points to 1.298 percent.