S.Korea shares inch up as traders await US data

Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:54pm EDT

* Heavyweights like Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor rebound

* Fed tapering concerns arise ahead of U.S. retail sales index

* LG Display rises as Apple advanced overnight

SEOUL, Aug 13 (Reuters) - South Korean shares advanced on Tuesday morning on bargain hunting on heavyweights such Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as well as steelmakers, but caution ahead of the release of U.S. retail sales data may cap further gains.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.8 percent at 1,900.41 points as of 0212 GMT, rising above the psychologically important 1,900 resistance for the first time in five sessions.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics gained 2.6 percent, while memory-chip maker SK Hynix Inc gained 3.3 percent. Automaker Hyundai Motor Co advanced 1.8 percent and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp gained 1.5 percent.

Samsung Securities analyst Juhn Jong-kyu said the market was rebounding as foreigners were seen bargain hunting with the benchmark index having fallen 2.2 percent last week, primarily through large-caps like Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor.

But the rebound may be capped as investors await U.S. July retail sales data due later in the global day. If the data is better than expected, this will intensify speculation that the Federal Reserve will start cutting back its bond purchases next month. Poor data, on the other hand, would raise concerns about the global growth trajectory.

"There are no cues to further the upward momentum, which is the main problem in the market," said Choi Kwang-hyeok, an analyst at E-Trade Securities, adding that the upcoming data will only drag down the market in either case.

POSCO gained 1.2 percent, and Dongkuk Steel advanced 2.0 percent as China's cabinet unveiled on Monday plans to support the smaller firms to bolster the economy.

LG Display Co Ltd rose 2.1 percent after shares of Apple Inc rose 2.8 percent after a report said the company is expected to present its redesigned iPhone in September. LG Display is a panel display supplier to Apple's iPhone and iPad products.

Foreign investors bought a net 41.6 billion won ($37.37 million) worth of KOSPI shares, buttressing the main board.

Decliners outnumbered gainers 394 to 355.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 1.0 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.1 percent lower.

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