SEOUL, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) — South Korean shares extended gains for an eighth consecutive session Monday on the back of strong advances by chipmakers and the government’s decision to loosen quarantine measures against the new coronavirus pandemic. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 11.77 points, or 0.49 percent, to close at 2,403.73.

Trading volume was moderate at about 832 million shares worth some 10.5 trillion won (US$9.2 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 508 to 324.

Foreigners bought a net 138 billion won and institutions purchased a net 84 billion won, while retail investors sold a net 234 billion won.

 “(Local) stocks seem to have gone up due to the eased virus curbs here and the US$1.8 trillion stimulus proposal extended by the White House,” said Korea Investment & Securities analyst Kim Ye-in.

On Monday, South Korea lowered its COVID-19 social distancing guidelines to the lowest level, raising hopes that the eased virus curbs can boost the economic recovery.

Chipmakers led the KOSPI’s hike, buoyed by promising export data. In the first 10 days of October, exports of memory chips rose 11.2 percent on-year, while South Korean exports contracted 28.8 percent.

In Seoul, large caps closed mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 1.17 percent to 60,400 won, with No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix spiking 3.14 percent to 85,500 won.

Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics gained 0.56 percent to 719,000 won. Celltrion shot up 4.39 percent to 273,500 won, following reports that the drugmaker successfully completed the phase one clinical trial for its coronavirus antibody treatment.

Internet portal giant Naver dipped 2.99 percent to 292,000 won, with its rival Kakao down 1.98 percent to 371,500 won.

Leading chemical maker LG Chem fell 2.89 percent to 672,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI dropped 1.12 percent to 440,000 won.

Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, slipped 0.28 percent to 180,000 won, and top steelmaker POSCO lost 0.48 percent to 207,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,146.8 won per dollar, up 6.5 won from the previous session’s close, marking the highest since April when the Korean won finished at 1,141.8.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1.8 basis points to 0.925 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 1.8 basis points to 1.225 percent.