(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)
SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished a tad higher Wednesday as investors remained lukewarm amid lingering U.S. debt woes and weaker-than-expected retail sales data. The Korean won gained ground against the greenback.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 14.42 points, or 0.58 percent, to close at 2,494.66.
Trading volume was moderate at 555.6 million shares worth 7.07 trillion won (US$5.28 billion), with gainers beating decliners 552 to 318.
Foreign investors and institutions scooped up a combined 315.4 billion won worth of local shares, while retail investors dumped 324.7 billion won.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.01 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 0.18 percent as investors awaited developments in the negotiations on debt deals.
Analysts said weaker-than-anticipated April retail sales of the world's largest economy also weighed heavily on investor sentiment here.
"Uncertainties from U.S. debt-ceiling woes and concerns over an economic slowdown limited the KOSPI's upward movement," Kim Jee-hyun, an analyst from Kiwoom Securities Co., said. "Individual stocks will keep showing separate movements from the KOSPI's direction."
Tech shares led the KOSPI's upside gain, along with chemicals and auto shares.
LG Display jumped 3.75 percent to 15,770 won on the latest news report that it will supply OLED TV panels to Samsung Electronics.
Leading chipmaker SK hynix rose 1.66 percent to 91,900 won, and top internet portal operator Naver advanced 2.65 percent to 213,000 won.
LG Chem went up 2.01 percent to 709,000 won, and Hyundai Motor climbed 0.99 percent to 204,500 won.
But Samsung Electronics, the No. 1 memory chipmaker, slid 0.61 percent to 65,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,337.2 won against the U.S. dollar, up 1.4 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 3.2 basis points to 3.274 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds gained 2.3 basis points to 3.238 percent.
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