Seoul shares ended higher Friday as investors scooped up auto and tech stocks on bargain hunting amid concerns over further rate hikes to tackle inflation and a global recession. The Korean won sharply fell to the lowest level in over 13 years against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 8.66 points, or 0.37 percent, to close at 2,330.98 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 310.56 million shares worth some 7.25 trillion won ($5.5 billion), with decliners outnumbering gainers 601 to 258.
Foreigners bought a net 264 billion won worth of stocks, offsetting some of institutions and individuals' combined stock selling valued at 283 billion won.
"In today's session, foreigners bought tech stocks. Auto stocks got a boost from expectations that carmakers might have racked up stronger-than-expected earnings results for the second quarter amid the won's weakness," No Dong-kil, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp., said.
Tech stocks also jumped after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) announced Thursday its net profit soared 76 percent to a record level in the April-June quarter, analysts said.
But broadly, foreigners are reorganizing their portfolios by reducing risky assets to move to safe havens as central banks around the globe are expected to raise rates further, he said.
Investors are keeping an eye on whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by a percentage point at this month's policy meeting.
Tech and auto stocks were lead gainers, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics Co. jumping 4.4 percent to 60,000 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. climbing 5 percent to 98,700 won, and top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. rising 0.6 percent to 183,500 won.
Among decliners, national flag carrier Korean Air Lines Co. fell 2 percent to 24,350 won, leading cosmetics firm Amorepacific Corp. declined 0.7 percent to 133,500 won, and state-run Korea Gas Corp. shed 4.2 percent to 33,200 won.
The local currency closed at 1,326.10 won against the US dollar, down 14.00 won from the previous session's close, the lowest level since April 29, when the comparable reading was 1,340.7. (Yonhap)