Seoul shares rise on U.S. data, headed for best week in 5 months
(Updates to midday)
* Upbeat U.S. data brightens global economy's prospects
* KOSPI poised for best week in five months
* Automakers, tech shares lift main index
By Jungmin Jang
SEOUL, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Seoul shares rose on Friday morning and were headed for the strongest weekly gain in five months after robust U.S. data showed improved prospects for the global economy, although uncertainty over Syria limited gains.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.6 percent on the day at 1,918.18 points as of 0310 GMT. The index has gained 2.5 percent so far this week and if it ends there, it would be the strongest weekly gain since late March.
Wall Street rose on Thursday after news the U.S. economy expanded by a stronger-than-expected 2.5 percent in the second quarter. Weekly jobless claims fell more than last week's forecast to signal an improvement in hiring over August.
"Before heading into September where numerous cues await us, investors are celebrating the optimistic global economic outlook, buoyed by the upbeat U.S. data," said Bookook Securities analyst Kim Sung-hwan, referring to next month's U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting and German elections as well as regular economic indicators.
However, Kim said remaining concerns such as the Syrian conflict and financial turmoil in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia were weighing down sentiment.
Automakers led the market's rise in Seoul on Friday, with Hyundai Motor Co rising 2.1 percent and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp up 1.7 percent.
Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd rose 0.8 percent on foreign buying. Memory-chip maker SK Hynix rose 1.8 percent.
Financial shares Hana Financial Group Inc and Shinhan Financial Group Co Ltd gained 2.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
But battery maker Samsung SDI Co fell 2.8 percent on profit-taking after recent hefty gains on hopes for fast growth in the electric car sector.
STX Offshore & Shipping Co Ltd and STX Heavy Industries Co Ltd lost 6.7 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, after affiliate STX Corp was halted from trading over legal disputes.
Hotel Shilla Co Ltd rose 4.7 percent after it was included in the KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks, which itself rose 0.7 percent. The junior KOSDAQ slipped 0.1 percent. (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Choonsik Yoo and Eric Meijer)
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