South Korean shares ended in positive territory Thursday due to hopes for growth of the Chinese economy, offsetting a negative impact from the simultaneous maturity of stock futures and options which led to massive selling by foreigners.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 1. 84 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 1,934.38. Trading volume stood at 256.32 million shares worth 4.35 trillion won (4.07 billion U.S. dollars).
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that China's economy has tremendous potential and resilience and the country is able to keep its economic growth in a proper range, easing worries about the economic slowdown following the announcement of the worse-than- expected trade data for February.
The Chinese government kept its economic growth target for 2014 unchanged at around 7.5 percent. Li said that China set a proper range for an economic operation, noting GDP growth and employment would not slid below the lower limit.
Retail and institutional investors bought stocks worth 225.5 billion won and 241.5 billion won each, but foreigners dumped a net 481.2 billion won worth of local shares due to the "quadruple witching day," or a simultaneous maturity of the KOSPI200 index futures, the KOSPI200 index options, stock futures and stock options.
Bank of Korea (BOK), South Korea's central bank, kept its benchmark interest rate at 2.5 percent, keeping its wait-and-see stance for 10 straight months. The rate freeze was widely expected, having little impact on the market.
Large-cap shares ended mixed. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 0.3 percent, and top automaker Hyundai Motor declined 2.8 percent. The nation's biggest auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis retreated 1.3 percent, and the No. 2 carmaker Kia Motors slid 1.6 percent.
Top steelmaker POSCO rose 0.5 percent, and the nation's biggest life insurer Samsung Life Insurance gained 2.3 percent. Memory chip giant SK Hynix added 1.7 percent, and the nation's No. 1 web search engine NAVER jumped 3.1 percent after tumbling more than 4 percent the previous day.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,069.0 won against the greenback, up 1.4 won from Wednesday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes fell 0.02 percentage points to 2.86 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds slid 0.03 percentage point to 3.53 percent.