(Updates to midday)
* Shipbuilders rally on hopes China can lift earnings
* SK Hynix rebounds as fire-hit China plant partly operating
* Crude refiners rise as oil prices near two-yr high
SEOUL, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Seoul shares hit a three-month intraday high on Monday, buoyed by stronger-than-expected Chinese exports that added to signs of economic stability there amid uncertainty over mixed U.S. jobs data.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.8 percent at 1,970.89 points as of 0224 GMT after touching 1,973.69, the highest intraday level since June 5.
China data showed on Sunday its exports grew 7.2 percent in August, above market expectations of 6 percent growth, to support evidence that the world’s second-largest economy is on a stable rebound.
Even though U.S. non-farm payroll data was weaker than expected, many investors still anticipate the Federal Reserve will begin scaling back its stimulus this month as big economies appear to strengthen.
“The market is seen on an upward economic cycle, helped by an improving Chinese economy,” said Kang Hyun-gee, an analyst at IM Investment & Securities. “The market is diluting the Fed uncertainties fairly well, backed by firm China trade data.”
Foreign investors were net buyers of 166.2 billion won ($151.95 million) of local stocks in the morning, extending their buying streak to a 12th session.
Shipbuilders rose as the data on China, South Korea’s biggest export market, enhanced hopes of better earnings. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co led gains by advancing 3.5 percent.
SK Hynix Inc rose 4.1 percent after the second-largest DRAM memory chip maker on Sunday announced partly-resumed operations at a fire-hit China plan. The fire was reported after last Wednesday’s close, and the shares dropped a total of 5.5 percent the next two days.
Crude refiners advanced as oil prices stayed near two-year highs on concerns of a possible military strike against Syria. SK Innovation Co Ltd and GS Holdings rose 4.2 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.
NAVER Corp jumped 7.1 percent after its mobile messenger ‘Line’ topped 240 million users as of Sept. 6, on top of news the messenger will be embedded to Samsung Electronics’ new smartwatch.
Automaker Hyundai Motor Co slipped 1.4 percent as investors awaited a vote by South Korean union workers later on Monday on a tentative agreement reached late last week.
Hyundai Motor’s affiliate Kia Motors Corp also fell 1.3 percent.
Gainers outnumbered decliners 438 to 313.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks gained 0.9 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.3 percent lower.
$1 = 1093.8000 Korean won Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Richard Borsuk