South Korean shares went slightly up, the first rise in four sessions, on Friday as foreign investors turned to net buyers in later trading, analysts said.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) edged up 0.71 points, or 0.04 percent, to close at 2,026.83. Trading volume stood at 501.02 million shares worth 4.76 trillion won (4.2 billion U.S. dollars).
The KOSPI started lower, and fell to 2,015 points earlier due to concerns over the global economic slowdown. Wall Street lost ground overnight amid downbeat economic data. The U.S. homes prices dipped 0.1 percent in February, revised from a previous reported 0.7 percent rise.
The eurozone economy showed unexpected decline in March with contracting manufacturing activities. The eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index fell to 48.7 in March from 49.3 in February.
Weighed by the economic concerns, foreigners and local institutions sold more shares than they bought during the morning session, but local institutions turned to net buyers in the afternoon trading, with foreigners shifting to net buyers later.
Offshore investors bought a net 47 billion won worth of local shares, turning to net buyers in three days, while institutional investors shifted to net buyers in seven sessions by purchasing a net 5 billion won worth of stocks. Retail investors shored up the KOSPI with purchases of a net 105.2 billion won worth of shares.
Program-linked transaction, however, posted net selling worth 140.4 billion won with arbitrage net selling amounting to 145 billion won.
Market watchers said that even if the KOSPI managed to end higher, significant meaning cannot be given to it as there is no clear momentum to move up or down local shares, saying that the KOSPI was expected to remain in narrow range for the time being.
Losers outnumbered winners with 425 shares falling and 382 shares rising. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics inched up 0.2 percent to 1,261,000 won, and leading chemical firm LG Chem gained 2.4 percent to 367,500 won. Memory chip giant Hynix Semiconductor climbed 2.7 percent to 30,150 won.
In contrast, banking shares lost ground on demand for profit- taking. Woori Finance Holdings, the country's No.1 banking group by assets, dropped more than 3 percent, and major banking groups such as Shinhan Financial Group, KB Financial Group and Hana Financial Group, fell around 1 percent.
The local currency finished at 1,135.3 won against the greenback, down 5.9 won from Thursday's close.
Bond prices ended mixed. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes added 0.01 percentage point to 3.64 percent, but the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds closed unchanged at 3.82 percent.