SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks closed barely higher Monday, extending their gaining streak to a sixth session, helped by expectations of strong corporate earnings in the January-March season. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 0.22 points, or 0.01 percent, to close at 3,198.84 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 1 billion shares worth some 15.2 trillion won (US$13.6 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 462 to 394.

Foreigners sold a net 300 billion won, and institutions offloaded a net 116 billion won, while retail investors purchased 390 billion won.

After a muted start, the KOSPI gained ground in the late morning to above the 3,200-point mark, buoyed by increased individual and institutional buying that stemmed from hopes of strong first-quarter corporate earnings.

But the key stock index erased most of the earlier gains on increasing valuation pressure in the afternoon, as institutions turned to net selling to lock in profit after a week of gains.

The bio sector performed well amid lingering concerns that the country may need to brace for another wave of the new coronavirus pandemic. Energy and financial shares also fared strong on expectations of economic rebound on a global scale.

“The Chinese corporate earnings look decent, and the United States is also expected to log increasingly larger profit until the second half (this year),” DS Investment & Securities analyst Yang Hye-jeong said.

Large caps closed mixed in Seoul.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics retreated 0.72 percent to 83,300 won, but No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix advanced 0.36 percent to 138,000 won.

Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics slipped 0.12 percent to 830,000 won, with Celltrion gaining 0.49 percent to 309,500 won.

Internet portal giant Naver declined 0.38 percent to 390,000 won, and its rival Kakao closed at 119,000 won, unchanged from the previous session.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor decreased 0.65 percent to 230,000 won, and chemical maker LG Chem lost 1.78 percent to 881,000 won.

   The local currency closed at 1,117.2 won per dollar, down 0.9 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 2.5 basis points to 1.129 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 3.4 basis points to 1.548 percent.