SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks finished higher to extend their gains to a fifth session Thursday amid expectations that the economic recovery would be quicker and stronger than expected. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

 The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 11.95 points, or 0.38 percent, to close at 3,194.33.

Trading volume was moderate at about 1.3 billion shares worth some 17.4 trillion won (US$15.6 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 468 to 375.

Foreigners bought a net 266 billion won, while institutions sold 582 billion won. Institutions purchased a net 279 billion won.

Electronic signboards at a Hana Bank dealing room in Seoul show the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 3,194.33 on April 15, 2021, up 11.95 points or 0.38 percent from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)

Stocks got off to a muted start, as the country may adopt stronger social distancing measures if daily COVID-19 cases remain high throughout the rest of the week.

The key stock index increasingly gained ground as foreigners extended their buying streak to a third day.

Concerns over fast post-pandemic inflation decreased, and the central bank froze the key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent, saying the economic recovery has been patchy due to the resurgence of the coronavirus.

“Dovish signals from the central banks in South Korea and the United States helped the KOSPI’s hike,” KB Securities analyst Ha In-hwan said.

Bank of Korea chief Lee Ju-yeol said Asia’s fourth-largest economy is expected to grow at a faster-than-expected clip this year.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics edged up 0.12 percent to 84,100 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix advanced 0.36 percent to 137,500 won.

Internet portal giant Naver slipped 0.13 percent to 391,000 won. Mobile messenger operator Kakao surged 7.59 percent to 120,500 won in its first trading after it split its shares fivefold.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor declined 0.86 percent to 230,500 won, and chemical maker LG Chem shed 0.67 percent to 891,000 won. Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics added 2.03 percent to 806,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,117.6 won to the U.S. dollar, down 1 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 4.5 basis points to 1.1477 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 4.6 basis points to 1.570 percent.