SEOUL Seoul shares were up slightly on Monday, supported by upbeat data from China and the United States over the weekend and even as profit taking pared gains on some recently strong issues.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) .KS11 ticked 0.25 percent higher to 1,962.33 points as of 9.07 p.m. EST on Sunday. Foreign investors were net buyers for the eighth session.
"The main board opened strong on positive economic data over the weekend, but investors are taking profits in shares that saw steep gains recently as uncertainties over upcoming events and the U.S. fiscal talks return to the fore," said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities.
Better-than-expected U.S. jobs data on Friday and strong Chinese November factory output and retail sales on Sunday raised hopes about the outlook for growth in the world's top two economies.
The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee is expected to announce a fresh round of Treasury bond purchases to maintain support for the weak economy when it meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), the world's top smartphone maker, extended gains to touch a lifetime intraday high of 1,506,000 won shortly after the market open, before paring gains to trade 0.7 percent up.
Auto shares .KRXAUTO were also bullish, continuing their trend of seesawing since late November's rapid gains on strong sales. Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) rose 2 percent while affiliate Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd (012330.KS) gained 2.6 percent.
"Investors are snapping up cyclical stocks on hopes that positive U.S. and China data means the economic cycle will rebound, and auto shares are preferred with their low valuation and steady fundamentals," said Ahn Se-hwan, an auto sector analyst at IBK Securities.
Declining shares outnumbered winners 413 to 343. The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.4 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ .KQ11 edged 0.1 percent lower.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Seong Chang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)