KOSPI Soars to Yearly High

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed at the highest level this year on Monday, powered by continued foreign buying.

The KOSPI closed up 0.08 percent at 2,015.14 after a weak start in the morning, declining around 10 points just after trading began. But then foreign investors snapped up W201.8 billion worth of shares (US$1=W1,023).

Foreigners bought a total of W1.61 trillion worth of shares over the last five trading sessions.

Foreign buying focused particularly on Samsung Group shares after news that Samsung chief Lee Kun-hee is gravely ill and likely to hand over to his son.

Samsung Electronics shares rose 1.4 percent, Samsung Life Insurance 2.42 percent, Samsung Corp. 1.39 percent and Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance 2.46 percent.

Samsung Electronics, which stood at W1.34 million per share on May 9, surged 3.97 percent on May 12 after news of Lee's heart attack and climbed 8.5 percent over the last six trading sessions.

On Monday, foreigners bought W136.2 billion worth of Samsung Electronics shares, accounting for two-thirds of total net purchases of Korean shares that day.

Lee Seung-woo at IBK Securities said, "Foreign investors are flocking to buy Samsung Electronics shares due to forecasts that the company's value will rise further as the leadership transfer gains speed."

The won closed down W2 against the U.S. dollar at 1,022.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 20, 2014 11:28 KST