* Shipbuilders lead gains; STX soars 5 pct
* Samsung Elec up 1.9 pct ahead of U.S. shopping season
* Automakers Hyundai and Kia take breather
By Somang Yang
SEOUL, Nov 19 South Korean shares posted their
strongest gain in nearly two weeks on Monday, supported by
bargain hunters and hopes for a U.S. fiscal deal to avert the
threat of recession in the world's largest economy.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose
0.9 percent to 1,878.10 points, edging up from Friday's
three-and-a-half month low.
However, Lim Dong-rak, an analyst at Hanyang Securities,
warned that the gains were little more than a technical rebound
from last week's losses. The KOSPI fell 2.3 percent last week to
reach its lowest close since Aug 3.
Programme trading drove the index, with a net 287 billion
Korean won ($263 million) worth of shares bought via
computer-driven transactions, the highest amount since Oct. 29,
according to Korea Exchange data.
U.S. equities closed higher on Friday after Congress leaders
pledged to find common ground on taxes and spending that would
allow them to avoid a "fiscal cliff" of mandatory tax hikes and
Most stocks rose, with gaining shares dwarfing losers 603 to
Shipbuilders led the charge, with STX Offshore &
Shipbuilding rallying 5 percent and Hyundai Heavy
Industries up 2.8 percent.
"Shipbuilders, which are very sensitive to changes in the
index, were casualties of the sluggish market last week. They
are now recouping losses," said Lee Yoon-sang, a sector analyst
at NH Securities.
Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics rose 1.9
percent, leading the sector's gains ahead of the U.S. year-end
shopping season which kicks off on Friday. LG Display
, which supplies panels for smartphones, computers
and TVs, gained 1.8 percent.
Autos bucked the trend, with Hyundai Motor and
sibling Kia Motors falling 0.7 percent and 2.4
Local government funds bought a net 187 billion won ($171
million) worth of KOSPI shares, buttressing the main board
despite selling by retail and foreign investors.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks closed up 1
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 2.1 percent
Move on day +0.93 percent
12-month high 2,057.28 14 March 2012
12-month low 1,750.60 19 Dec 2011
Change on yr +2.87 percent
All-time high 2,231.47 27 April 2011
All-time low 93.10 6 January 1981
($1 = 1092.2250 Korean won)
(Editing by Richard Pullin)