South Korean stocks opened higher on May 21 on encouraging news about another candidate vaccine for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the US.
Extending gains for the fifth consecutive day, the nation’s main bourse Kospi crossed the 2000-point mark in early morning trading for the first time since March 6 as it rose 13.65 points, or 0.68 percent, to 2,003.20. It, however slightly retreated to 1,993 later.
Retail investors drove the index as it bought stocks worth some 204.9 billion won while institutional investors purchased around 16.6 billion won at around 10 a.m.
“The local stock market has made gains as US companies in the tech sector are actively countering the ongoing coronavirus crisis by beefing up their online capabilities, and chip-related companies are showing some improvement in their business activities,” said Seo Sang-young, an analyst from local brokerage Kiwoom Securities.
Kakao and Naver, two of the largest online platform operators in Korea, saw their respective stock prices hit a record high in the May 20 session. Kakao shares reached 240,000 won in the morning while Naver’s stock was traded at 233,500 won.
Shares in the electronic component, energy, and gaming segments were among the main drivers of the market’s gains.
Chemical giant LG Chem rose to a high of 385,000 won, up 6.21 percent, game developer NCSoft saw its stock rise to a high of 794,000 won, up 5.87 percent.
Following a positive interim testing result of a vaccine being developed by US pharmaceutical firm Moderna on May 18, Biotech Inovio announced on May 20 its preclinical testing of an experimental coronavirus vaccine showed “robust neutralizing antibody and T cell immune responses,” against the new strain of coronavirus. Its stock price grew 8.45 percent to $15.79 on the day after the announcement.
Buoyed by the news on the positive testing results, all three major indexes in the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq, and S&P 500, closed higher Wednesday. The Dow Jones rose 1.52 percent while Nasdaq and S&P 500 gained 2.08 percent and 1.67 percent, respectively.
US West Texas Intermediate crude futures for July soared $1.53, or 4.8 percent, to settle at $33.49 per barrel while Brent crude futures increased 3.2 percent to $35.75 per barrel.
The rise of the oil prices is considered to be attributable to the easing of economic lockdowns in the US and other countries. The Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that US crude oil inventories dropped by 5 million barrels for the week ended May 15, which is a second weekly decline in a row.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)