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Kospi hits record-high, offsets strong dollar

South Korea’s first-tier stock market hit a fresh record high Thursday, offsetting a strong US dollar on the back of eased global uncertainties and strong foreign buying.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed at 2,241.24 points, up 21.57 points, or 0.97 percent, compared to the previous trading day Tuesday, when it closed at 2,219.67.

Kospi’s previous record high was 2,231.47, set on April 27, 2011.

The market did not open Wednesday as it was a public holiday.

Foreign investors’ buying rush drove the upward trend, as they purchased 325.3 billion won ($287.2 million) in stocks. Institutional investors sold 315.9 billion won worth of shares, while individual investors in total sold 51.6 billion won in shares.

(Korea Exchange)
(Korea Exchange)
Trade volume came to some 258.3 million shares, worth 4.56 trillion won, while gainers outnumbered losers 550 to 240.

Kospi extended rallies for two straight trading days, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics at the forefront of pushing the index up. Samsung Electronics cruised to hit eight consecutive record highs in the afternoon. Its stock closed at 2,276,000 won, up 1.38 percent, or 31,000 won.

Experts said the rally proved that Korean stocks had been undervalued, as they expect further rises for the Kospi.

“Room for revaluating local stocks abounds,” said Seo Jung-hun, an analyst at Samsung Securities. “South Korean stocks are some of the most undervalued on the global market.”

The stellar performance Thursday came after the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday held its key rate steady in the range of 0.75-1 percent, while signaling possibilities of a rate hike in June, along with upbeat local economic readings.

Prospects of the strong dollar prevailed Thursday morning as the US Federal Reserve decided to keep an “accommodative” stance on its monetary policy on the back of “realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation” in the Federal Open Market Committee session Wednesday. 

The local currency weakened 1.7 won to 1,132.7 won against the greenback when markets closed at 3:30 p.m., largely reversing a slide of 3.6 won in the first five minutes of trading.

The Kospi rally, driven by foreigners’ buying spree, offset the strong dollar, another analyst said.

“The surge in the stock index translated to risk-averse investors turning to safe havens,” Seo Sang-young, a strategist at Kiwoom Securities, told The Korea Herald.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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