* Kospi tracking positive leads from the U.S. overnight
* Ukraine, China uncertainties to constrain gains -analyst
* Foreigners on track for 7th straight session of outflows
By Se Young Lee
SEOUL, March 18 (Reuters) - Seoul shares were higher in early trade on Tuesday, tracking positive leads from the U.S. overnight in a bargain-hunting rebound as concerns about the risk of a military conflict in Ukraine appeared to ease.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.3 percent at 1,932.43 points as of 0209 GMT, seeking out a second consecutive session of gains.
The United States and Europe imposed sanctions on a small group of officials from Russia and Ukraine following Crimea’s vote to join Russia over the weekend, but comments from U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that the West will seek to avoid military conflict and use diplomatic measures to resolve the crisis.
“The uncertainties over Ukraine and China’s growth will keep the Kospi from rising sharply, but at this point the market is around its bottom and has room to head higher,” said NH Investment analyst Cho Seong-joon. “Today’s pickup appears to be a technical rebound.”
Nevertheless, analysts say that the fallout from the Ukraine crisis and worries about a rapid slowdown in China’s economic growth will have investors treading carefully. Any concrete resolution to either of these prevailing concerns will not emerge in the short term, keeping risk appetite in check.
Foreigners were net sellers of local stocks so far on Tuesday, on track for the seventh consecutive session of outflows.
Shares of large caps LG Electronics Inc. and SK Hynix Inc. were up 3.3 percent and 1 percent, respectively, as investors looked to snatch up bargains following last week’s decline.
Shares of shipbuilder Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co. were down 3.4 percent, however, weighed by worries that the firm’s new orders could continue to decline this year.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 443 to 303.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.3 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.7 percent higher. (Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Eric Meijer)