SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks hit another all-time high Wednesday for the second consecutive session on the back of optimism surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and U.S. stimulus. The Korean won sharply rose to an over 29-month high against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 41.65 points, or 1.58 percent, to close at 2,675.9.
Trading volume was high at 1.05 billion shares worth around 16.9 trillion won (US$15.3 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 475 to 353.
Foreigners bought a net 514.1 billion won, while retail investors sold a net 243.6 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 248.1 billion won.
The benchmark index got off to a strong start, reaching as high as 2,677.26 on hopes of COVID-19 vaccines becoming available soon.
The European Medicines Agency said Tuesday it received applications for emergency approval of vaccines developed by Pfizer with BioNTech and Moderna.
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers also proposed stimulus worth $908 billion on Tuesday (U.S. time), keeping hopes of a large relief package alive.
A rosy forecast for memory chips next year further boosted investor sentiment.
“Memory chip supply is expected to decrease early next year, while demand is set to rise,” Doh Hyun-woo, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said. “DRAM prices will start to rise from the second quarter next year.”
Most large caps in Seoul ended mixed.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics jumped 2.51 percent to a new record high of 69,500 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix soared 8.46 percent to 109,000 won.
Leading chemical maker LG Chem added 3.96 percent to 841,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI rose 0.91 percent to 552,000 won.
Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion advanced 0.87 percent to 347,000 won, while Samsung Biologics dipped 0.38 percent to 790,000 won.
Internet portal giant Naver fell 0.7 percent to 283,500 won, with its rival Kakao retreating 0.4 percent to 373,000 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, slipped 0.54 percent to 182,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,100.8 won per dollar, up 5.4 won from the previous session’s close, the highest closing since June 15, 2018, when the comparable figure was 1,097.7 won.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys remained unchanged at 0.982 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 1.5 basis points to 1.35 percent.