South Korean shares gained Friday to the highest in two weeks as foreigners returned to the local stock market amid views that recent underperformance of the U.S. economic indicators may come from heavy snow and cold weather.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) advanced 13.32 points, or 0.69 percent, to close at 1,940.28, the highest in around two weeks. Trading volume stood at 212.45 million shares worth 3.16 trillion won (2.97 billion U.S. dollars).
U.S. economic data showed mixed picture, but it was viewed as a temporary phenomenon stemming mainly from massive snowfall, called snowgeddon, a compound noun of snow and Armageddon coined by U.S. media.
Retail sales in the U.S. fell 0.4 percent in January, falling short of market estimates, and initial jobless claims grew 8,000 to 339,000 last week.
Foreigners purchased a net 10.5 billion won worth of local shares after selling the stocks in the prior day. Local institutions bought stocks worth 13.6 billion won, offsetting sales by retail investors worth 28.6 billion won.
Investors, however, refrained from taking active positions amid lack of momentum to move stocks up or down at a steep pace.
Most large-cap shares ended bullish. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.2 percent, and top steelmaker POSCO increased 1. 4 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors gained rose 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent each, and the nation's biggest auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis added 1.3 percent.
Memory chip giant SK Hynix declined 2.1 percent, and top wireless carrier SK Telecom slid 1 percent.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,063.7 won against the greenback, up 2.7 won from Thursday's close.
Bond prices ended mixed. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes added 0.01 percentage point to 2.84 percent, but the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds lost 0.01 percentage point to 3.48 percent.