Seoul shares rebound on Fed speculation after soft U.S. jobs data
* Samsung Elec, Hyundai Motor rise
* Shipbuilders continue to slide on 4Q earnings concerns
* Institutional investors on track for 1st net buying day
SEOUL, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Seoul shares rose on Monday morning as a surprisingly weak U.S. jobs report revived speculation the Federal Reserve would retain its loose monetary policy for longer, bolstering risk appetite.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.6 percent at 1,951.00 points as of 0152 GMT after touching an intraday high of 1,954.07. The KOSPI has failed to close out a positive session since Jan.7.
"The surprisingly weak (U.S. nonfarm payroll) figures have reversed the yen's slide and brought with it some speculation about the Fed's next move," said Samsung Securities analyst Kim Yong-goo. However, "with key U.S. index reports including retail sales on their way, fluctuations in the market are expected," he said.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose only 74,000 in December, a report showed on Friday, which was the smallest increase since January 2011 and well short of the forecast in 200,000 jobs.
The soft report helped to halt the yen's slide, easing concerns about diminishing price competitiveness of Korean exporters, including the two largest components in the KOSPI.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which accounts for a sixth of total market capitalisation, rose 1.3 percent.
Hyundai Motor Co, the second largest component in the KOSPI, gained 3.6 percent. The yen's weakness has been largely responsible for a 3.7 percent drop in the automaker's shares so far in the new year.
Affiliates Kia Motors Corp and autoparts maker Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd advanced 2.3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
On the negative ledger, shipbuilders extended their losses on worries over the October-December quarter earnings. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd dropped 2.3 percent and Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd slipped 2.1 percent.
Institutional investors purchased a net 16.2 billion won ($15.3 million) worth of KOSPI shares near midday, on track to post their first net buying session of the year.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 412 to 339.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.8 percent, while the tech-heavy, junior KOSDAQ edged 0.4 percent higher. ($1 = 1061.3000 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)