Seoul shares rise to 3-week high; Hyundai Motor, POSCO jump
* Foreign net-buying underpins the main index
* Hyundai Motor, POSCO march higher after recent falls
* LS Corp tumbles after worse-than-expected earnings
SEOUL, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Seoul shares touched a three-week high on Friday as investors stayed upbeat on the global economy despite soft U.S. data, with heavyweights like Hyundai Motor bouncing back from recent losses and buying by foreign investors underpinning the market.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.9 percent at 1,943.25 points as of 0211 GMT after hitting an intraday high of 1,946.39, its highest since Jan. 24.
The KOSPI is on track to gain 1.2 percent for the week at its current level, more than offsetting last week's 1 percent loss.
"The latest soft U.S. data rather convinced many investors that once this unusually cold winter season has passed, the global economy led by the U.S. will pick up," said Kim Hak-gyun, an analyst at KDB Daewoo Securities.
U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly in January and more Americans filed for jobless benefits last week as unseasonably cold weather took its toll, reports on Thursday showed.
Kim also said China, South Korea's largest export market, is seen avoiding a hard landing with help from the improving global economy, as recent upbeat trade data showed.
Market sentiment improved this week on Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's steadfast view on the U.S. economy and on a slew of Chinese data including Wednesday's trade and Friday's consumer price data.
Reflecting the mood, fluctuations in the main index have eased with the volatility index at 14.12, after hitting 17.67 on Feb. 4, the highest level since July 2013.
Foreign investors bought a net 29.3 billion won ($27.5 million) worth of KOSPI shares, underpinning the market.
Advancing shares outnumbered decliners by a ratio of 2 to 1.
Hyundai Motor Co rose 1.8 percent after falling nearly 3 percent in the previous three sessions. POSCO , the world's fifth-largest steelmaker, was up 1.9 percent, following a 4 percent decline in the previous week.
State-run energy companies Korea Gas Corp and Korea Electric Power Corp rose 5.1 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.
Department store operator Hanwha Timeworld Co Ltd jumped 5 percent after it was named Jeju Airport's duty shop operator on Thursday.
But LS Corp slid 4.4 percent after the company reported a much weaker-than-expected operating profit for the October-December quarter.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.9 percent, while the tech-heavy junior KOSDAQ advanced 0.5 percent. ($1 = 1066.3000 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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