Seoul shares edge up on foreign inflows - Syria tension caps gains
(Updates to midday)
* Automakers rise on foreigners' bargain-hunting
* Shipbuilders advance on back of bullish euro zone outlook
* Hana Financial falls on weak forecast
SEOUL, Aug 27 (Reuters) - South Korea shares hit their highest intraday level in five sessions on Tuesday morning as foreign buying of automaker shares and a rally in shipbuilders offset concerns of possible Western military action against Syria for alleged use of chemical weapons.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.3 percent at 1,894.26 points as of 0228 GMT, highest intraday level since Aug. 21.
"The market's strong fundamentals are continuing to attract foreigners to underpin the market despite losses in Wall Street overnight," said Shinhan Investment & Securities analyst Han Beom-ho. "The main index is seen to recover its earlier losses in the month."
Global markets fell overnight after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signaled that the U.S. was moving closer to a military response against the Syrian government for what he called "undeniable" use of chemical weapons.
Still, foreign investors were net buyers of 53.8 billion won ($48.35 million) worth of local shares on Tuesday morning.
Automaker Hyundai Motor Co gained 1.7 percent on foreign bargain-hunting, its affiliate Kia Motors Corp advanced 0.9 percent.
Shipyards Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co Ltd and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd rose 2.2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively, extending their gains amid a broad market increase.
Conglomerate Hyundai Group's affiliate Hyundai Merchant Marine Co and Hyundai Elevator Co Ltd rose 3.7 percent and 2.4 percent after news the South Korean government is expected to reply favourably to North Korea's proposed talks, either later this month or in early September, about resuming tours of Mt. Kumkang that Hyundai Group used to operate.
Crude oil refiners S-Oil Corp and SK Innovation Co Ltd were noticeable large-cap decliners, dropping 0.8 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Finance shares declined amid growing pessimism about their future earnings. Hana Financial Group Inc fell 1.2 percent
Decliners outnumbered gainers 458 to 278.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks gained 0.4 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ declined 0.7 percent. ($1 = 1112.6500 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Eric Meijer)