* U.S. factory activity growth hits near 4-yr high
* KOSPI rebounds after two days of losses
By Christine Kim
SEOUL, Feb 21 Seoul shares rebounded strongly on
Friday morning as foreign buying picked up after a survey showed
brisk U.S. factory activity, with Samsung Electronics rallying
ahead of the launch of its latest smartphone.
The upbeat U.S. manufacturing survey was particularly
comforting as it came after a grim reading on China's factory
sector raised fresh concerns about growth in the world's
Markit's preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers
Index rose to 56.7 in February, marking the highest level since
May 2010, giving Wall Street a boost and spurring interest in
In Seoul, bellwether Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
jumped 3 percent ahead of the unveiling on Monday of its latest
smartphone, the Galaxy S5.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up
1.2 percent at 1,952.90 points as of 0314 GMT, poised to score
its first winning session after two straight days of losses.
Some traders cautioned that the China worries could yet
undermine the KOSPI.
"The U.S. factory survey provided a lift, but the effect may
dissipate quickly on underlying China worries," said Ko
Seung-hee, a market analyst at SK Securities.
"Since last year the local market has shown a tendency to
decouple from developed markets including the U.S., reflecting
the rising influence of the Chinese economy."
Foreign interest underpinned the morning session, led by net
purchases of 190.2 billion won ($177.39 million) worth of South
Korean stocks. It snapped three days of net selling.
Naver Corp recovered some of its previous
session losses when the stock tumbled 8 percent as investors
worried that Facebook Inc's acquisition of WhatsApp will
hurt its own messaging chat service LINE. The stock rose 2.8
Winners outnumbered losers 457 to 315.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 1.3
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.4 percent
($1 = 1072.2000 Korean won)
(Additional reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Shri