South Korean stocks rose, driving the benchmark index to its steepest gain in three months, as Samsung Electronics Co. rallied to a record.
The Kospi index climbed 27.33 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,002.77, its steepest gain since Sept. 14, with Samsung accounting for 41 percent of the increase. Samsung climbed 2.9 percent amid “solid” expectations for its smartphone business, Korea Exchange Inc. said in a statement today. OCI Co. added 3.8 percent on speculation Chinese and U.S. demand will bolster the solar industry.
More than a third of the Kospi’s point gain occurred in the final minute of trading as futures and options contracts on South Korean equities and stock indexes expired, an event known as quadruple witching. Kospi trading volumes were 12 percent higher than the 10-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Foreign investors were also net buyers of Korean stocks for an eleventh day, according to Korea Exchange data today.
“Program buying on quadruple-witching day drove up shares nicely,” Lee Jin Woo, a fund manager at Seoul-based KTB Asset Management Co., said by telephone today.
The Kospi gained 6 percent in the past month on optimism an improving global economy will boost South Korean exports. U.S. payroll figures reported on Dec. 7 and Chinese industrial production data two days later beat economist estimates. The Kospi gained 9.7 percent this year and trades at 11.1 times estimated profit, the highest level since January 2011.
Samsung Electronics, whose market value surpassed $200 billion for the first time last week, rose 2.9 percent to 1,533,000 won. LIG Investment & Securities Co. and IBK Securities Co. yesterday raised their share-price estimates, citing improving prospects for earnings in 2013.
“Foreigners heavily snatched up Samsung shares today,” said Lee Sun-Tae, analyst at NH Investment & Securities. “The main reason behind this seems to be the company’s brighter fourth-quarter earnings outlook, largely helped by its handset business.”
OCI, South Korea’s biggest maker of polysilicon for solar cells, rose 3.8 percent, the most since Sept. 14, to 164,500 won. The solar industry will gradually improve, Choi Ji Hwan, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co., wrote in a report today.
STX Pan Ocean Co., South Korea’s largest dry-bulk ship operator, climbed 6.7 percent to 3,990 won, the highest level since Sept. 26. STX Group said it’s in talks to sell its controlling stake in STX Pan Ocean.