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SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks advanced to a nine-month high on Thursday as investors scooped up major tech shares, buoyed by the signing of a preliminary Sino-American trade deal. The South Korean won lost ground against the U.S. dollar.
After a choppy session, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 17.07 points, or 0.77 percent, to close at 2,248.05, marking its highest point since April 16, when it reached 2,248.63 points.
Trade volume was moderate at 796 million shares worth 6 trillion won (US$5.2 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 437 to 374.
Foreigners and institutions offloaded a net 36.8 billion won and 198.8 billion won, respectively. Meanwhile, individuals scooped up a net 223.5 billion won.
The Seoul stock market initially opened lower as the phase-one trade deal between the world's two largest economies failed to completely soothe investor concerns over uncertainties.
The KOSPI, however, soon turned bullish as major tech shares, including market kingpin Samsung Electronics, made gains.
"There are still some uncertainties surrounding additional trade negotiations but expectations are high that a tariff war will eventually be eased in phases," said Kim Yoon-bo, an analyst at Cape Investment & Securities.
In Seoul, most large-cap shares ended higher.
Top cap Samsung Electronics gained 2.88 percent to end at an all-time high of 60,700 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix added 1.02 percent to close at 99,200 won.
Bio shares were also bullish. Major pharmaceutical firm Celltrion was up 2.27 percent, hitting 180,500 won on news that it may possibly merge with two affiliates. Samsung BioLogics, a bio affiliate of Samsung Group, added 0.46 percent to end at 436,500 won.
Leading automaker Hyundai Motor jumped 3.04 percent to 118,500 won, after receiving some positive reviews for the first sport utility vehicle under its premium Genesis brand, the GV80. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis was up 1.84 percent at 249,500 won, while Hyundai's smaller sister company, Kia Motors, was 0.12 percent down at 41,150 won.
The local currency closed at 1,161.1 to the U.S. greenback, down 4.1 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys jumped 3.5 basis points to stand at 1.426 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 3.4 basis points to reach 1.536 percent.