(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom; CHANGES photo)
SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed higher Thursday to extend their winning streak to a fifth session, the longest period of this year, on growing hope over the resumption of global business activities. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 8.67 points, or 0.44 percent, to close at 1,998.31. Trading volume was moderate at some 588 million shares, worth about 8.5 trillion won (US$6.92 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 463 to 363.
The index also touched the psychologically significant 2,000-point threshold for the first time in more than two months.
Seoul shares got off to a strong start as major economies eased virus-related restrictions.
The buying rally was also attributable to investors' hope over a new vaccine for COVID-19, though no clear timeline has been provided yet.
"U.S. tech firms led the overall market gain as they are actively penetrating deeper into the online segment, bracing for the post-pandemic era. This has also given a positive impact on the local market," said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co.
Foreigners became net buyers for the third consecutive session, purchasing more shares than they sold at 77 billion won. Individuals also scooped up a net 290 billion won, while institutions dumped 390 billion won.
Top chemical firm LG Chem shot up 4.14 percent to 377,500 won, and No. 1 oil refiner SK Innovation moved up 2.9 percent to 106,500 won.
Pharmaceutical companies also closed bullish, with Samsung BioLogics rising 1.5 percent to 609,000 won and Hanmi Pharmaceutical increasing 1.02 percent to 246,500 won.
Top portal operator Naver added 1.35 percent to reach 225,000 won, and the leading mobile messenger operator Kakao gained 2.59 percent to 237,500 won.
Leading tech giant Samsung Electronics, on the other hand, edged down 0.1 percent to 49,950 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix moved down 0.83 percent to 83,400 won.
The local currency closed at 1,230.90 won per dollar, down 0.60 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 1.2 basis points to 0.856 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond slipped 1.4 basis points to 1.097 percent.