SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) -- Seoul stocks closed higher Wednesday on eased trade tension between the United States and China, although they pared part of earlier gains. The Korean won surged against the U.S. dollar amid risk-on sentiment.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 12.54 points, or 0.65 percent, to 1,938.37. Trading volume was moderate at 687 million shares worth 4.92 trillion won (US$4 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 510 to 316.
The KOSPI rose to as high as 1952.22 points at one point on news that the U.S. decided to delay tariffs on some Chinese imports, but investors went on to lock in recent gains as China's July industrial output missed market expectations.
"As China has agreed to restart trade talks with the U.S. within two weeks, the U.S. decided to delay imposing tariffs on some Chinese goods," said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities. "However, the KOSPI couldn't get a further push as China delivered weaker-than-expected industrial output data."
On Tuesday (local time), the U.S. announced that it would delay imposing tariffs on some imported Chinese goods that were set to go into effect next month, a move that abated tension between the world's two largest economies in their protracted trade war.
Washington said tariffs on various consumer electronics, video game consoles and certain items of footwear will be delayed until Dec. 15, giving U.S. retailers a breather to prepare for the holiday shopping season.
In Seoul, retail investors bought a net 51.9 billion won worth of shares, while institutions dumped a net 24.3 billion won. Foreigners offloaded a net 50.1 billion won.
Most large-cap stocks gained ground across the board, led by tech shares.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 1.63 percent to 43,700 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix surged 3.22 percent to 76,900 won. LG Electronics inched up 0.5 percent to 60,100 won.
Auto shares were mixed. No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor slid 1.16 percent to 127,500 won, but its auto parts-making affiliate Hyundai Mobis jumped 2.13 percent to 240,000 won. Kia Motors lost 0.23 percent to 43,650 won.
POSCO, South Korea's top steelmaker, inched up 0.24 percent to 206,000 won and LG Chem, the nation's top chemical company, soared 4.69 percent to 323,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,212.7 against the U.S. dollar, sharply up 9.5 won from the previous session's close.
"Following somewhat eased tension between the U.S and China, the won-dollar exchange rate is expected to return to previous levels," Samsung Futures analyst Jeon Seung-ji said. "However, concerns on a protracted U.S.-China trade war will not disappear easily."