South Korean stocks rose Tuesday as investors picked up big-cap tech bargains following a sharp fall the previous session. The local currency fell against the US dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 13.52 points, or 0.55 percent, to 2,451.71. Trading volume was moderate at 443.14 million shares worth 7.48 trillion won ($5.96 billion), with decliners outpacing gainers 496 to 374.
Despite overnight losses on Wall Street, the Kospi opened slightly higher and moved within a tight range before extending gains on solid buying by individuals.
Retail investors bought a net 326.84 billion won, while institutions and foreigners sold a net 273.61 billion won and 62.7 billion won worth of local stocks, respectively.
"Investors have sought market direction following sharp gains in January, as there's a divergence of opinions by major institutions, policymakers and market analysts on the outlook for the US economy and the Federal Reserve's monetary policy path," Kiwoom Securities analyst Han Ji-young said.
An unexpectedly strong US jobs report has raised the prospect of more Fed rate hikes, and investors are awaiting Chairman Jerome Powell's speech before the Economic Club of Washington on Tuesday. Last week, the US central bank delivered a 25 basis point rate hike as expected.
Investors have also watched the developments regarding a suspected Chinese spy balloon, which had flown over North America before being shot down last week, according to analysts.
Large-cap tech stocks drove up the main index.
Samsung Electronics rose 0.49 percent to 61,900 won, and chip giant SK hynix rose 1.91 percent to 90,800 won.
Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution jumped 3.24 percent to 542,000 won, and Samsung SDI advanced 1.43 percent to 711,000 won. LG Chem soared 3.50 percent to 681,000 won.
Bio shares also gathered ground, with Samsung Biologics climbing 0.74 percent to 813,000 won and Celltrion inching up 0.06 percent to 166,400 won.
Internet giant Naver rose 1.86 percent to 219,500 won, and Posco Holdings, the country's No. 1 steelmaker, added 0.17 percent to 298,500 won.
Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, spiked 4.29 percent to 68,000 won on news that it acquired a 9.05 percent stake in the K-pop powerhouse SM Entertainment. Shares of SM Entertainment tumbled 2.28 percent to 90,100 won.
Carmakers ended mixed, with top automaker Hyundai Motor shedding 0.12 percent to 170,500 won and its affiliate Kia growing 1.13 percent to 71,300 won.
SK Innovation sank 4.86 percent to 162,600 won after posting a record high operating profit of nearly 4 trillion won last year on the back of a rise in oil prices and strong petrochemical demand.
The local currency ended at 1,255.3 won against the US dollar, down 2.5 won from the previous session's close.
On Tuesday, South Korea announced a set of measures to expand its foreign exchange market to foreign investors as part of efforts to attract more global players to the local market. (Yonhap)