(LEAD) Seoul shares spike nearly 2 pct on bargain hunting; won sharply up

South Korean stocks soared almost 2 percent Thursday as investors bought bargains after four consecutive sessions of decline amid ongoing geopolitical risks in the Middle East and speculation about delays in U.S. interest rate cuts. The Korean won rebounded sharply against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 50.52 points, or 1.95 percent, to close at 2,634.7. Trade volume was moderate at 466 million shares worth 10.2 trillion won (US$7.47 billion), with gainers far outpacing losers at 767 to 125. Foreigners bought a net 580.3 billion won, while individuals dumped a net 657.7 billion won. Institutions bought a net 68.9 billion won. Driven by a consensus that the recent decline was excessive, although risks, such as the Israel-Iran conflict and concerns over potential delays in Fed rate cuts, remain valid, investors opted to pick undervalued stocks. "There are ongoing concerns that the market may lose ground due to fears of high inflation reemerging and a delayed recover y in the semiconductor sector," said Han Ji-young, an analyst from Kiwoom Securities. Top tech giant Samsung Electronics moved up 0.89 percent to 79,600 won and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix added 2.01 percent to 182,300 won. Battery makers were also winners, with industry leader LG Energy Solution rising 3.43 percent to 377,000 won and Samsung SDI gaining 5.05 percent to 405,500 won. Pharmaceutical firms closed bullish as well with Samsung Biologics rising 1.8 percent to 790,000 won and Celltrion increasing 3.57 percent to 177,100 won. Leading online search engine operator Naver climbed 0.61 percent to 180,700 won and its smaller rival Kakao gained 4.69 percent to 49,100 won. The local currency ended at 1,372.9 won against the greenback, up 13.9 won from the previous session's close. Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 4.8 basis points to 3.427 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds lost 5 basis points to 3.491 perce nt. Source: Yonhap News Agency