Seoul shares higher after 6-day loss, auto sector rebounds

Thu Feb 7, 2013 8:56pm EST

* Auto sector index up 1.4 pct on weaker won

* Hyundai, Kia rise more than 3 pct

* Kumho Tire buoyed by better profits

* Builders underperform; GS E&C falls 8 pct

By Somang Yang

SEOUL, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Seoul shares climbed on Friday morning, on track to snap six losing sessions as investors bought up auto shares after recent declines.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked 0.3 percent higher to 1,936.93 points as of 0144 GMT.

Auto shares accounted for 0.2 percent of the index's gains, with the sector sub-index up 1.6 percent.

Hyundai Motor was up 3.3 percent while sibling Kia Motor rose 3.6 percent.

"Hyundai and Kia shares have fallen to their book value, so their cheapness is a good reason to buy," said Chae Hee-geun, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.

Chae added that the won's climb seems to have halted, so investors are now thinking that auto shares have fallen disproportionately.

As a stronger won trims their repatriated profits, auto shares have suffered as the local currency climbed to a 17-month high against the dollar in mid-Jan. The won has weakened since then and is now 1,091.1 against the dollar.

Kumho Tire, which is also a component of the auto sub-index, rose 4.6 percent after it announced increased profits on Thursday.

However, the construction sector slumped, weighing on the index. GS Engineering & Construction was one of the day's worst performers, plunging 8.7 percent after announcing fourth-quarter earnings that fell far short of forecasts.

Overall, 376 shares declined while 352 advanced.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.4 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.3 percent higher. (Reporting by Somang Yang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)