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SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks snapped a two-session losing streak Wednesday as investors scooped up top caps that recently suffered heavy losses. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 22.34 points, or 0.71 percent, to 3,148.29.
Trading volume was high at about 1.56 billion shares worth around 24 trillion won (US$21.9 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 626 to 225.
Retail investors purchased a net 171 billion won, while foreigners picked up a net 193.5 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 374.4 billion won.
The main index traded choppy early in the session before recovering on retail and foreign buying.
Investor sentiment also improved on hopes of more U.S. stimulus from the incoming Biden administration.
Analysts still remained cautious of an overheated KOSPI.
"Stocks currently face accumulated valuation pressure," IBK Investment & Securities analyst Ahn So-eun said. "Investors recently appear to be taking a breather after a spike at the end of last year and the start of this year."
The KOSPI has been on a bullish run since November last year, setting record highs until last week.
Most large caps in Seoul ended mixed.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 0.99 percent to 89,700 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix rose 3.10 percent to 133,000 won.
Leading chemical firm LG Chem jumped 3.95 percent to 1,000,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI gained 1.21 percent to 754,000 won.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor declined 0.77 percent to 259,000 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics rose 1.47 percent to 830,000 won, while Celltrion declined 0.65 percent to 381,500 won.
Internet portal operator Naver added 3.29 percent to 314,000 won, while rival Kakao slipped 0.66 percent to 454,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,095.1 won against the U.S. dollar, up 4.8 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.3 basis point to 0.979 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 0.5 basis points to 1.310 percent.
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