(Adds dropped word ‘stocks’ in headline, fixes typographical error in 3rd paragraph)
* KOSPI stays above 2,050 point level
* Hyundai Heavy falls following recent gains
* Foreigners on track for 37th day of net buying
SEOUL, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Seoul shares touched a high for 2013 early on Monday and then retreated on profit-taking but stayed above a key level as investors awaited a slew of global data.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was flat at 2,052.12 points by 0200 GMT after hitting 2,060.18.
The KOSPI has struggled to keep above the 2,050 point level, the upper end of a range it has traded in recently.
“The sentiment is not bad at all, with South Korean data indicating gradual growth,” said Lim Dong-rak, an analyst at Hanyang Securities, adding that the market is being tested while absorbing new offerings.
South Korean exports for the first 20 days of October rose 2.9 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, suggesting that Asia’s fourth-largest economy is on a recovery path.
Due this week are a manufacturing survey on China and data on Europe, as well as a key U.S. jobs report.
The main board was underpinned by offshore buying that stood at 100 billion won ($94.27 million) in the morning. Foreigners are on track to extend their record buying streak to a 37th session.
Brent crude added 0.1 percent to build on Friday’s 0.8 percent rise, maintaining offshore interest in refiners. SK Innovation Co Ltd, South Korea’s top crude oil refiner, gained 3.6 percent and GS Holdings, the holding company of the country’s No.2 refiner, rose 2 percent.
The shipbuilding sector fell 2 percent on profit taking. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd, the world’s largest builder, fell 2.1 percent. It had gained 44 percent in the July-September quarter, compared with the KOSPI’s 7.2 percent rise.
LG Chem Ltd fell 2.8 percent after announcing weaker-than-expected July-September earnings on Friday.
OCI Co Ltd fell 3.4 percent on an uncertain earnings outlook after announcing it had terminated poly-silicon supply contracts with Helios Technology SRL and Swiss Wafers AG.
Market heavyweight Hyundai Motor Co, which dropped 3 percent on Friday, gained 2.3 percent.
Declining shares outnumbered gainers 409 to 361.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks edged up 0.1 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ gained 0.3 percent. ($1 = 1060.8250 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Richard Borsuk)