(ATTN: ADDS more details and data in paras 2, 7-9, bond yields at bottom, photo)
SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean stock market hit a more than 2-year high Wednesday, as investor sentiment improved on stronger exports and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine test results. The Korean won surged to a 23-month high against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 33.04 points, or 1.35 percent, to close at 2,485.87 points, the highest closing since 2487.25 points on May 3, 2018, and extend its winning streak to an eighth day.
Trading volume was high at about 1.3 billion shares worth some 18 trillion won (US$16.2 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 575 to 290.
Foreigners bought a net 834 billion won, while retail investors sold a net 1.2 trillion won. Institutions purchased a net 402 billion won.
Foreigners raked in local stocks for a fifth consecutive session, as the Korean won continued to soar against the U.S. greenback.
The local currency closed at 1,110.0 won against the U.S. dollar, up 5.1 won from the previous session's close and the highest since 1105.3 on Dec. 4, 2018.
Amid a bullish run, the combined market cap of the KOSPI and the tech-heavy, secondary KOSDAQ markets stood at a record high of 2,032 trillion won upon the session's close. The previous record was 2,019 trillion won on Jan. 29, 2018, according to the Korea Exchange (KRX) data.
The KOSPI's market cap alone stood at 1,703.95 trillion won.
"The easing U.S. election uncertainties and the progresses in (COVID-19) vaccine development have increased the inflow of cash for risky assets and expanded the size of global stock markets," the KRX said in a statement.
Investors remained optimistic about Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine test results. Positive comments by top U.S. infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci backed such optimism.
"Anticipation for the COVID-19 vaccine development seems to have pulled up the stock index," said Samsung Securities analyst Seo Jeong-hoon.
"Economy- and export-sensitive stocks performed well in today's session," he added.
South Korea's exports jumped 20.1 percent on-year in the first 10 days of November, raising hopes for a quick economic recovery from the new coronavirus pandemic. Chip and auto exports increased 31.9 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.
In Seoul, most large caps closed higher.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics advanced 1.83 percent to 61,300 won, with No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gaining 0.58 percent to 87,000 won.
Leading chemical firm LG Chem shed 1.42 percent to 692,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI shed 3.94 percent to 512,000 won.
Pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics added 1.2 percent to 761,000 won, and Celltrion spiked 7.23 percent to 296,500 won.
Hyundai Motor, the country's largest carmaker, moved up 1.15 percent to 175,500 won.
Internet portal giant Naver fell 1.06 percent to 280,000 won, and its rival Kakao slipped 0.14 percent to 355,500 won.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1.3 basis points to 0.989 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 3.4 basis points to 1.340 percent.
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