South Korean shares broke six consecutive days of losses Monday, as China's interest rate cut helped ease market jitters over the country's financial sector and its overall economy. The local currency fell to the lowest level against the U.S. dollar in almost nine months.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 4.3 points, or 0.17 percent, to finish at 2,508.8.
Trading volume was slim at 393.37 million shares worth 8.39 trillion won (US$6.24 billion), with gainers slightly outnumbering losers 456 to 434.
Institutions bought a net 25.98 billion won worth of shares, while offshore and retail investors sold a net 33.76 billion won and 10.9 billion won worth of shares, respectively.
Earlier in the day, China slashed its one-year loan prime rate by 10 basis points from 3.55 percent to 3.45 percent.
The move was aimed at propping up its economy and soothing market concerns over its ailing property sector sparked by China's heavily indebted property developer Evergrande Group.
Concerns are also lingering over a possible rate hike push by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is set to hold its annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium later this week to discuss the likely direction of global interest rates.
"Strong market momentum is missing this week, as the local market will just follow the Jackson Hall meeting and China's real estate market conditions," analyst Huh Jae-hwan at Eugene Investment and Securities said.
In Seoul, most top-cap companies closed mixed Monday.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 0.45 percent to close at 66,600 won, while its smaller rival SK hynix shed 0.68 percent to 116,400 won.
Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution declined 0.57 percent to 526,000 won, Samsung SDI lost 1.17 percent to 590,000 won, and LG Chem declined 0.18 percent to 568,000 won.
Major biotech firm Samsung Biologics climbed 0.91 percent to 778,000 won, while biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion dropped 3.52 percent to 145,100 won.
Top automaker Hyundai Motor closed flat at 186,100 won and its smaller sister company Kia went down 0.38 percent to 78,100 won.
The local currency ended at 1,342.6 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.3 won from the previous session's close, the lowest since November 23 when the comparable reading was 1,351.8.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 6.6 basis points to 3.795 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds gained 5.9 basis points to 3.863 percent.
Source: Yonhap News Agency