(Updates to midday)
* Foreigners net-buying bolsters the index
* Capital inflow expected to continue - analysts
* Samsung Elec, Naver Corp chased higher by foreigners
SEOUL, Dec 19 Seoul shares joined global markets
in rising early Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve announced it
would start to unwind its stimulus programme.
The U.S. central bank said it would reduce its monthly asset
purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion, while it also indicated
that its key interest rate would stay at rock bottom even longer
than previously promised.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up
0.5 percent at 1,984.27 points by 0215 GMT after hitting an
intraday high of 1,997.02, its highest since Dec. 11.
With the Fed's tapering decision, "flow of foreign capital
is the focus of the market in absence of variables," said Lee
Eun-taek, an analyst at Dongbu Securities.
Analysts said the firming of the dollar against the won
will strip away foreign exchange profit for offshore
investors, but local stocks remain attractive enough to bolster
"Tapering isn't tightening, so there are plenty of
opportunities to lure foreign investors," said Samsung
Securities analyst Kim Yong-goo. "Of course South Korean stocks
aren't as sexy as U.S. and Japanese stocks, but they still stand
out from other emerging market stocks."
Foreign investors were net buyers of 70.4 billion won
($66.97 million) of local shares near mid-session. Popular with
them were Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Naver Corp
, which advanced 1.9 percent and 2.4 percent,
Hopes for a rise in commercial interest rates, following the
Fed's tapering, lifted the banking sector. Woori
Finance Holdings Co Ltd rose 2.4 percent and Shinhan
Financial Group Co Ltd 1.3 percent.
Bucking Thursday's trend were autoparts makers, with Mando
Corp and Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd tumbling
6.5 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.
Crude oil refiner S-Oil Corp fell 1 percent
after a local newspaper reported that Hanjin Group is
planning to sell all 28.4 percent of S-Oil shares worth 2.3
trillion won for improvement in financial structure.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 447 to 315.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.6
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged up 0.2 percent.
($1 = 1051.2500 Korean won)
(Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Richard Borsuk)