Seoul shares close at 5-month high on Fed, S&P rating upgrade

Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:17am EDT

* KOSPI up 2.92 pct, breaks 2,000-point barrier
    * Investors snap up underperforming shares
    * Brokerages spike; steelmakers outperform

    By Hyunjoo Jin
    SEOUL, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Seoul shares closed at their
highest level in five months, thanks to the combination of the
U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus move and Standard & Poor's
upgrade of South Korea's credit ratings.
    The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained
2.92 percent to end Friday at 2,007.58 points, its highest
closing level since April 13 and registering the sharpest daily
percentage gain in nearly nine months.
    The Fed launched another aggressive stimulus program on
Thursday, saying it would pump $40 billion into the U.S. economy
each month until it saw a sustained upturn in the weak jobs
market. 
    Standard & Poor's on Friday raised South Korea's sovereign
credit rating by one notch to A-plus, the country's third
upgrade in as many weeks. S&P said a smooth change of leadership
in North Korea has reduced geopolitical risks on the peninsula.
 
    Foreigners increased purchases of South Korean shares to a
net 1.28 trillion won ($1.13 billion), the biggest amount since
Aug. 9 and the sixth straight day of net buying.
    "U.S. economic data will be in focus in the coming months to
see whether the Fed stimulus would help boost the economy." Park
Seok-hyun, an analyst at KTB Investment & Securities, said.
    "It will be difficult for economic data to improve fast, and
market momentum will slow down," he said. 
    Steel firms gained, with top steelmaker POSCO 
climbing 3.1 percent and Hyundai Steel jumping 5.2
percent.
    "More liquidity and risk appetite are driving higher
beaten-down cyclicals such as steel and chemicals firms," said
Chun Jong-kyu, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
    But any further rises will be limited as the rally is driven
by policy hopes in the United States and Europe, and "economic
uncertainty still lingers in China," he said.  
    Brokerages were among the best performers, with Daewoo
Securities spiking 15 percent and Woori Investment &
Securities soaring 10.4 percent.  
    Suppliers to Apple Inc rebounded and outperformed
the broader market after analysts were bullish about sales of
Apple's newly-unveiled iPhone 5. 
    Flat-screen maker LG Display jumped 4.8 percent
and chip producer SK Hynix rallied 5 percent.
         
          Move on day                +2.92 percent 
          12-month high   2,057.28   14 March 2012  
          12-month low    1,644.11   26 Sept 2011               
          Change on yr               +9.96 percent              
          All-time high   2,231.47   27 April 2011 
          All-time low       93.10   6 January 1981 
($1 = 1128.4500 Korean won)

 (Editing by Richard Borsuk)
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