(Updates to midday)
* SK Hynix falls on fire at China plant; Samsung Elec gains
* Hyundai Motor rises on increased August sales in U.S.
SEOUL, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Seoul shares rose to a three-month high On Thursday, led by gains in large-cap stocks after upbeat data bolstered expectations of a global recovery although jitters lingered that the U.S. Federal Reserve may taper its stimulus programme this month.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 0.8 percent to 1,948.90 points as of 0230 GMT, the highest intraday level since June 7.
The Markit/HSBC Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) on Wednesday showed growth in China’s services sector hit a five-month high in August. The data came on the heels of three other PMI surveys this week that pointed to a pick-up in activity at factories and service firms.
U.S. August auto sales also rose by the fastest pace in nearly six years, ahead of the closely-watched payrolls data on Friday, extending a string of upbeat U.S. data that has cemented views the Fed will begin to scale back stimulus later this month.
“Firm data from key export markets (U.S. and China) are working in South Korea’s favour as well as favorable factors that happened overnight,” said Shinhan Investment & Securities analyst Han Beom-ho, referring to news regarding market heavyweights Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motors.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd rose 1.8 percent after it presented new gadgets in Berlin. But it was seen mainly gaining from SK Hynix’s suspension of operations at a China plant that produces more than 12-15 percent of global computer memory chips due to a fire on Wednesday. SK Hynix is the world’s No.2 DRAM chipmaker.
SK Hynix Inc fell 3.5 percent in morning trade due to the plant fire, even though it said late on Wednesday that its China plant was soon expected to resume operations and overall production would not be affected.
Automaker Hyundai Motor Co rose 1.0 percent after a U.S. auto sales report said Hyundai’s August sales increased 4.4 percent from a year earlier. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd, Hyundai Motor’s affiliate, advanced 2.3 percent.
Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co Ltd gained 1.7 percent, its stock price reaching the highest level since June 4, after a series of bullish global data raised hopes of stronger earnings.
Gainers outnumbered decliners 440 to 286.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks gained 0.6 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ advanced 0.8 percent. (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Additional reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)