(Updates to midday)
* Summers' exit from Fed chairman race buoys risk appetite
* Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors rise as yen extends rise
* Hyundai Steel gains after brokerage raises price target on
new blast furnace
* Celltrion skids by daily limit of 15 pct
SEOUL, Sept 16 South Korean shares rose to
6-month-highs on Monday morning, as risk-appetite got a boost
after Lawrence Summers dropped out of the race to become the
Federal Reserve's next chairman, while a firmer Japanese yen
drove automakers higher.
Summers is perceived by markets as relatively hawkish and
his decision could leave Janet Yellen, a well known policy dove,
as front runner for the top job.
"The withdrawal of Summers is positive news to investors, as
it removes uncertainty about the Fed policy," said Oh Hyun-seok,
chief market strategist at Samsung Securities.
Summers' surprise decision comes ahead of this week's
crucial Fed meeting to decide on when and by how much to reduce
its massive-bond buying stimulus.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up
1 percent at 2,013.72 points as of 0126 GMT after earlier
touching 2,018.02 points, its highest level since March 7.
Foreign investors extended their buying streak after capping
16 consecutive sessions of net purchases on Friday.
Automakers advanced as the Japanese yen was up against the
dollar for the third straight day. South Korea's top automaker
Hyundai Motor rallied 3 percent to a nearly
15-month-high, while affiliate Kia Motors climbed
A firmer yen reduces the price competitiveness of Japanese
automakers which compete head-on with Korean companies in
Steelmakers also attracted buyers, with bellwether POSCO
up 1.4 percent and second-ranked Hyundai Steel
soaring 5 percent. Shinhan Investment Corp lifted
the target price of Hyundai Steel on Monday, saying the
operation of its third blast furnace would help raise its sales
Hyundai Heavy Industries led gains by
shipbuilders, climbing 3.7 percent.
Bio-pharmaceutical firm Celltrion bucked the
trend, tumbling by the daily limit of 15 percent after media
reports that financial regulators had met on Friday to discuss
allegations of unfair share trade by its chief executive.
A Celltrion spokesman said it had not been briefed on the
result of the meeting.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)