(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom, photo)
SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks advanced for a third consecutive session Friday, backed by strong foreign buying. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 23.06 points, or 0.78 percent, to close at 2,968.33 points.
Trading volume was moderate at about 478 million shares worth some 10.1 trillion won (US$8.6 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 807 to 95.
Foreigners bought a net 157 billion won and institutions purchased 89 billion won, while retail investors offloaded 271 billion won.
Trading started off choppy as health authorities strengthened virus curbs amid spiking cases and the potential spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The government has decided to limit private gatherings to six people in the capital area and eight in other regions for four weeks, starting next week.
The country's new daily coronavirus cases fell below 5,000 on Friday, but the number of critically ill patients refreshed its record high.
"Foreigners had been sellers last month over the strong U.S. dollar currency and China risk, but now they are returning to scoop up local IT stocks," Samsung Securities analyst Jeong Myung-ji said.
In Seoul, market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 0.26 percent to 75,600 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 1.67 percent to 118,000 won.
Internet portal operator Naver added 0.88 percent, and giant pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics increased 0.9 percent to 402,000 won.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor advanced 0.24 percent to 206,000 won, and No. 1 bank Kakao Bank jumped 3.85 percent to 67,500 won.
The local currency closed at 1,180.1 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.2 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 5.5 basis points to 1.900 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 4.1 basis points to 2.027 percent.
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