Seoul: South Korean shares advanced on Thursday led by index heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd closing at a record-high on expectations of strong earnings and a U.S. court order that may help the firm in its battle with Apple Inc.
A Chinese factory survey showing an expansion in activity also helped lift sentiment, analysts said. China is South Korea's biggest trading partner.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed up 0.8 percent at 1,899.50 points after a fall of 0.3 percent the previous session.
"China's manufacturing data exceeded expectations and helped widen the KOSPI's early gains. Samsung's relentless rise also lifted the index because of its weight," said Lee Jae-hoon, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities.
Shares in Samsung Electronics closed up 2.4 percent at 1.417 million Korean won ($1,300), buoyed by expectations that its smartphone business will lead strong profit growth. The firm has a 17 percent weighting in the KOSPI, as of Thursday.
Samsung Electronics, which has a 17 percent weighting in the KOSPI index as of Thursday, was also boosted by a U.S. court order on Apple Inc to disclose to Samsung details of a legal settlement the iPhone maker reached with Taiwan's HTC Corp .
Legal experts say the question of which patents are covered by the Apple-HTC settlement, and licensing details, could help Samsung in its efforts to thwart Apple's quest for a permanent sales ban on its products.
Other technology shares also advanced, with chipmaker SK Hynix up 2.8 percent and flat-screen maker LG Display rising 2 percent.
Hyundai Motor bucked the trend, falling 1.2 percent. U.S. data showed on Thursday U.S. consumers have become less willing to buy cars from Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors Corp since the South Korean automakers admitted overstating the fuel economy of some of their vehicles.
Gainers outnumbered decliners 439 to 365.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks closed up 1 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ also edged 1 percent higher.