South Korean shares ended slightly higher Friday, after the Christmas close Thursday, as upbeat employment report in the United States boosted sentiment toward the world's largest economy.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) inched up 1.55 points, or 0.08 percent, to 1,948.16 at the close. Trading volume stood at 292.44 million shares worth 3.36 trillion won (3. 06 billion U.S. dollars).
The U.S. jobless claims fell 9,000 in the week ending Dec. 20 to 280,000, marking the lowest since early November. The fewer application for unemployment benefits bolstered expectations that the U.S. labor market is recovering.
Foreign and institutional investors purchased shares worth 55.1 billion won and 250 billion won respectively, but retail investors sold stocks worth 304.6 billion won.
Slower fall in global oil prices relieved uncertainties, but the KOSPI's move was limited as investors refrained from increasing stock positions as the year ends.
Large-cap shares ended mixed. Cheil Industries, the de-factor holding company of Samsung Group, advanced 2.2 percent, and top life insurer Samsung Life Insurance gained 0.9 percent. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.7 percent, but memory chip giant SK Hynix lost 0.6 percent. Naver, the country's most-used search engine, slid 0.7 percent, and the state-run monopoly power distributor Korea Electric Power Corp. declined 1.6 percent.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,098.7 won against the greenback, up 3.9 won from Wednesday's close.
Bond prices ended mixed. Yields on the liquid three-year treasury notes gained 1.1 basis points to 2.158 percent, but the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds lost 0.8 basis points to 2.650 percent.