South Korean shares ended in positive territory on Monday, keeping a upward trend for the fourth straight session, despite rising geopolitical risks on the Korean Peninsula caused by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s live-fire drill.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 4. 61 points, or 0.23 percent, to close at 1,985.61. Trading volume stood at 237.57 million shares worth 4.39 trillion won (4.12 billion U.S. dollars).
The DPRK began its live-fire drill from 12:15 a.m. local time, launching hundreds of rounds of shells with artillery guns just north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), or the disputed maritime border between the two Koreas.
Several rounds of the artillery shells fell south of the NLL, causing the South Korean military to fire in response.
Pyongyang declared a no-navigation zone earlier in the day, which banned ships from sailing near the tense sea border. Seoul evacuated border island residents for fear of possible incidents, in which the artillery shells land in residential areas.
Despite the escalating geopolitical risks, foreign investors bought local stocks worth 321.2 billion won, the most in around five months.
Market watchers said that a gap between valuations of emerging and advanced markets widened the most since the global financial crisis, noting foreigners were snapping up shares of the undervalued emerging economies.
Institutional and retail investors sold shares worth 100.3 billion won and 186.1 billion won respectively, limiting the KOSPI' s further gain.
Most large-cap shares ended higher. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.6 percent, keeping its upward trend for the fourth consecutive session, amid expectations for positive first- quarter earnings.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.2 percent amid speculation that the South Korean automaker will benefit from the U.S.-based GM's massive recalls.
Leading chemical firm LG and top steelmaker POSCO advanced 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent each, but SK Hynix, Hyundai Mobis and NAVER ended in negative territory.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,064.7 won against the greenback, up 4.6 won from Friday's close.
Bond prices ended mixed. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes rose 0.01 percentage point to 2.87 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds closed unchanged at 3.51 percent.