(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 2, 7-9, photo, bond yields at bottom)
SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) -- Seoul stocks finished higher Friday as investors' jitters eased on news that a group of banks would throw a lifeline to a troubled U.S. bank. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 17.78 points, or 0.75 percent, to 2,395.69. The index dipped 0.2 percent over the past five days.
Trading volume was moderate at about 355 million shares worth some 8.38 trillion won (US$6.4 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 672 to 224.
Institutions and foreign investors bought a net 155 billion won worth of shares, and foreigners offloaded a net 175 billion won worth of shares.
Overnight, Wall Street finished up after 11 American banks vowed to inject US$30 billion into the ailing San Francisco-based First Republic Bank, reassuring investors of the financial soundness of the U.S. banking system.
In Seoul, big-cap stocks finished largely in positive territory.
Chip companies gained ground after Japan on Thursday lifted export curbs on key semiconductor materials it imposed on South Korea in 2019.
Samsung Electronics, the world's largest memory chip maker, advanced 2.34 percent to end at 61,300 won, and its smaller rival SK hynix jumped 6.33 percent to 84,000 won.
Investor sentiment also improved after a revised tax bill passed a parliamentary subcommittee the previous day to expand tax benefits for companies investing in industries of strategic importance, such as semiconductors.
Internet giant Naver climbed 0.46 percent to 198,000 won, and Kakao, the operator of South Korea's dominant messaging app, KakaoTalk, rose 0.5 percent to 60,200 won.
Battery makers lost ground, with LG Energy Solutions edging down 3.99 percent to 553,000 won and Samsung SDI losing 2.44 percent to 721,000 won. Chemical giant LG Chem declined 3.84 percent to end at 702,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,302.2 won against the greenback, up 10.8 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed down. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 1.5 basis points to 3.415 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 0.9 basis point to 3.373 percent.