South Korean shares ended in positive territory for the fourth straight day Thursday as foreigners continued to bet bullish on the local stock market despite negative trade data from China. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 9. 66 points, or 0.48 percent, to close at 2,008.61. Trading volume stood at 218.95 million shares worth 4.1 trillion won (3.95 billion U.S. dollars). Foreigners led the market advance by purchasing a net 297.3 billion won worth of local stocks. The so-called "Buy Korea" by foreigners continued for 12 sessions in a row, sending the total foreign purchase over the cited period to 2.9 trillion won. Market watchers said foreign purchases would continue for the time being as there was no place to invest except for emerging economies with solid fundamentals amid the global recovery. Minutes of the March Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting showed that the U.S. central bank would maintain the zero- rate policy for a considerable period of time, helping bolster sentiment among foreigners. The KOSPI turned downward at one time in the trading after the announcement of trade data from China, South Korea's No.1 trading partner. China's March exports reduced 6.6 percent from a year earlier, with imports declining 11.3 percent. Bank of Korea (BOK) kept its benchmark interest rate on hold at 2.5 percent, keeping its wait-and-see stance for 14 straight months. It was in line with market expectations, having little influence on the market performance. Institutional and retail investors sold shares worth 126 billion won and 163 billion won respectively in a bid to lock in recent profits. Large-cap shares ended mixed. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.7 percent, and memory chip giant SK Hynix added 0.1 percent. Tech giant LG Electronics gained 0.9 percent, and its affiliate LG Display advanced 1.3 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor fell 0.4 percent, and its affiliate Kia Motors slid 1 percent. The nation's biggest auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis declined 2.7 percent. The South Korean currency finished at 1,040.2 won against the greenback, up 1.2 won from Wednesday's close. Bond prices ended mixed. The yield on the liquid three-year treasury notes closed unchanged at 2.86 percent, but the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds added 0.01 percentage point to 3.53 percent.