Seoul shares hit 1-mth high but lose steam ahead of US jobs data
(Updates to midday)
* Seoul shares posted best weekly performance last week
* Lotte Chem shares rebound on bargain hunting
SEOUL, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Seoul shares hit a one-month high but gave up some ground on Monday amid caution head of U.S. jobs data late this week that may give clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will start reducing its bond-purchasing stimulus this month.
Coming off a 3 percent gain last week, its strongest weekly gain for the year, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.1 percent at 1,924.62 points as of 0225 GMT.
Helped by August data showing robust South Korean export growth and a firm official China purchasing managers' index, it earlier climbed to a one-month high of 1,932.46.
"(South Korea's) firm fundamentals are being overshadowed by many macro cues ahead of us this month," said Hanyang Securities analyst Lim Dong-rak. "The market will take a short breather from its recent gains today.
Foreign investors were buyers of just a net 14 billion won ($12.6 million) worth of local stocks in the morning, suggesting a sharply lower result than the 501.6 billion won in inflows seen on Friday.
But Lotte Chemical Corp rose 4.1 percent on bargain-hunting after the shares fell 10 percent in last two weeks.
Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co Ltd climbed 1.8 percent on the China PMI data, which lifted expectations for higher earnings in the following quarters.
Hyundai Group's affiliates Hyundai Merchant Marine Co and Hyundai Elevator Co Ltd rose 3.0 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, on hopes of resuming the Mt. Kumkang tourism project that the Hyundai Group used to operate.
South and North Korean officials met earlier in the day to discuss reopening the shuttered Kaesong industrial park.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks rose 1.3 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.1 percent lower. ($1 = 1110.0500 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
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