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Seoul shares up nearly 1 pct on eased concerns over Middle East conflict

South Korean stocks jumped nearly 1 percent Tuesday as concerns over the Israel-Hamas conflict eased. The local currency slightly gained ground against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 23.93 points, or 0.98 percent, to close at 2,460.17, ending a two-session losing streak.

Trading volume was moderate at 500.5 million shares worth 7.6 trillion won ($5.6 billion), with winners beating losers 582 to 281.

Foreign purchases led the rally, as offshore investors scooped up a net 427.9 billion won worth of local shares, while individuals sold a net 279.8 billion won and institutions dumped a net 137.1 billion won.

Experts said foreigners returned to the local financial market on high hopes that diplomatic efforts to address the crisis in the Middle East are under way, with US President Joe Biden scheduled to visit Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

"US President Biden's planned Israel visit contributed to easing the geopolitical tensions," said Choi Yoo-joon, an analyst from Shinhan Securities. "Also, oil prices fell as Washington has agreed to ease sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry for a freer election."

Market heavyweights ended in positive territory to push up the index.

Top-cap Samsung Electronics jumped 3.12 percent to 69,400 won, and No. 2 LG Energy Solution gained 0.21 percent to 475,000 won.

Leading battery maker Samsung SDI rose 1.95 percent to 524,000 won, and top refinery SK Innovation climbed 0.4 percent to 149,600 won.

Mobile carriers were also among the winners, with industry leader SK Telecom jumping 1.01 percent to 50,000 won and KT increasing 1.21 percent to 33,350 won.

But bank shares went south as Hana Financial Group dropped 1.26 percent to 43,150 won and KB Financial Group declined 0.35 percent to 56,400 won.

The local currency ended at 1,353.6 won against the US dollar, up 0.1 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)

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