South Korean shares ended in positive territory on Wednesday as upbeat economic data in the U.S. boosted market sentiment despite the lingering concerns over the possible tapering of bond purchase program by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 14. 98 points, or 0.75 percent, to close at 2,001.20. Trading volume stood at 356.23 million shares worth 4.66 trillion won (4.12 billion U.S. dollars).
The local stock took a strong start and stayed in positive terrain throughout the session after the U.S. stocks set its new record high overnight on positive economic indicators.
March home prices in the U.S. posted the highest annual gain since 2006, and confidence among U.S. consumers jumped to reach the highest level since February 2008.
Adding to the positive market sentiment, top official at the European Central Bank (ECB) reiterated over its easing policy to remain in place.
However, concerns remained over the scaling-back of the U.S. quantitative easing. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted at the tapering of its bond purchase program depending on economic data.
Foreign investors led the market advance. Foreign funds lifted their holdings of stocks by 361.2 billion won, the largest increase in around two months.
Institutional investors kept their selling streak for four straight sessions by offloading a net 35.5 billion won worth of stocks, and retail investors sold shares worth 289.8 billion won.
Auto and tech shares gained ground helped by foreign purchases. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 1.9 percent, and memory chip giant SK Hynix advanced 1.9 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 1 percent, and its affiliate Kia Motors climbed 2.8 percent.
STX Pan Ocean, one of leading shipping firms, rose at the permissible daily limit of 15 percent on news that the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) neared to completing the acquisition of the liquidity-squeezed shipping firm. The holding company STX jumped 14.8 percent, and its shipbuilding unit STX Offshore and Shipbuilding surged 9.1 percent.
The local currency finished at 1,132.9 won against the greenback, down 6.0 won from Tuesday's close.
Bond prices ended sharply lower. The yield on the liquid three- year treasury notes surged 0.11 percentage point to 2.75 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds jumped 0.12 percentage point to 2.85 percent.