February 17, 2014 / 2:45 AM / in 4 years

Seoul shares rise to near 4-week high on global growth hopes

* Positive euro zone GDP data turns investors’ focus from U.S.

* Financial, construction sectors lead gains

By Christine Kim

SEOUL, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Seoul shares touched their highest point in nearly four weeks on Monday on demand from foreign and institutional investors, who stayed upbeat on the prospects for the global economy thanks to positive growth data from the euro zone.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.4 percent at 1,948.29 points as of 0200 GMT. It reached 1,955.04 points just after the open, its highest since Jan. 23.

“We’re seeing investors’ focus turning to momentum outside the U.S. - starting from the surprisingly upbeat export data from China last week to the euro zone GDP data,” said Lee Kyung-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities in Seoul.

Lee added that the KOSPI is likely to keep gaining this week as sentiment towards riskier assets grows, helping the bourse recover from deep losses sustained in recent weeks after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to keep trimming stimulus rocked markets in emerging economies.

Better-than-forecast euro zone growth numbers from Germany and France helped push the euro to a three-week high last week against the dollar.

Most Asian share markets were up on Monday, tracking Wall Street as investors looked past weak U.S. factory output data, which was mainly attributed to unusually cold weather in the area.

On the back of the upbeat sentiment, foreign investors bought a net 28.8 billion won ($27 million) worth of South Korean stocks on Monday as of 0200 GMT, along with institutional investors who snapped up 68 billion won worth.

The financial and construction sectors led the rise, with Shinhan Financial Group rising 2.9 percent, the best performance in its sector.

Hyundai Development Co leapt 9 percent along with other construction-related shares after Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok told lawmakers last week that the housing market was showing signs of improvement.

Posco, the world’s fifth-largest steelmaker, also benefited from foreigners’ demand, rising 1.1 percent.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 472 to 307.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.4 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.2 percent lower. ($1 = 1063.4000 Korean won) (Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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