Korea Hot Stocks-Tyre makers rally on Michelin data, rubber prices
SEOUL Feb 21(Reuters) - South Korea's main KOSPI share index was down 0.61 percent at 2,012.32 points as of 0443 GMT.
Stocks on the move on Thursday include:
**TYRE MAKERS RALLY**
Shares of South Korean tyre makers rose after rubber prices plunged and market data from France's Michelin spurred expectations of a demand recovery.
Michelin, the world's second-largest tyremaker, said on Wednesday that the U.S. replacement tyre market for passenger cars and light trucks grew 6 percent in January from a year earlier, while the corresponding figure for China jumped by 28 percent, offsetting a 4 percent fall in Europe.
"Michelin data fuelled hopes that U.S. demand has rebounded, and combined with recent falls in rubber prices, tyre shares are rallying today," said Lim Eun-young, an analyst at Dongbu Securities.
The benchmark Tokyo rubber futures contract for July delivery fell 3 percent on Thursday to its lowest in eight weeks, tracking a sell-off in U.S. commodities after speculation that a hedge fund was forced to sell positions across metals and oil markets.
"Today's fall in rubber prices leave more room for tyre makers to improve earnings," said Lee Hyun-soo, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.
Nexen Tire rallied 7.3 percent, Kumho Tire gained 6 percent and Hankook Tire rose 1.8 percent. (Reporting By Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)