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[SEOUL] South Korean shares jumped to a one-week high early on Wednesday as US data released overnight suggested that the world's biggest economy was gathering strength, raising chances that demand for South Korean exports could pick up.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 1.1 per cent at 1,958.21 points as of 0218 GMT.
New US single-family home sales recorded their biggest gains in 24 years in April and touched more than an eight-year high on the back of broadly increased purchases.
"Other than the US data, the already-low Kospi level spurred investors to hunt for bargains, boosting stocks," said Cho Byung-hyun, a stock analyst at Yuanta Securities.
Supporting the index, foreign investors were poised to be buyers, purchasing a net 61.9 billion Korean won (S$72 million) worth of Kospi shares before mid-session.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 447 to 342.
Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd gained 1.6 per cent, while Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd rose 2.9 per cent.
The sub-index for electricity and gas is also supporting the main board by gaining 2.6 per cent.
South Korea's current stock-trading time will be extended by 30 minutes effective from August 1 this year.
The South Korean won edged up as solid gains in Wall Street renewed risk demand globally but the dollar's broad strength kept gains in check.
The won was quoted at 1,188.5 to the dollar, up 0.3 per cent compared to Tuesday's close of 1,192.7.
June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.04 point to 110.32.