March 26, 2014 / 2:11 AM / 4 years ago

Seoul shares rise to 2-week high on U.S. data, China hopes

* U.S. consumer confidence, house prices boost outlook

* Cyclicals to benefit from recent trend

By Christine Kim

SEOUL, March 26 (Reuters) - Seoul shares stood at their highest in two weeks early on Wednesday, tracking Asian peers as investors warmed to risky assets thanks to positive data from the U.S. that boosted confidence in a firm recovery there.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 1 percent at 1,960.18 points as of 0157 GMT and reached its highest level since March 11 shortly after markets opened.

U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in March and to its highest level since January 2008 while U.S. house prices posted solid gains in January, underpinning hopes for stronger growth in the U.S. and the global economy.

Local analysts said the bright U.S. economic data and expectations of measures by China to shore up its economy would likely push up cyclicals in the South Korean stock market.

“Once Chinese growth measures materialise, investors’ demand for (cyclicals) will only grow faster. They will be the first to benefit as they have posted steep losses,” said Oh Seung-hoon at Daishin Securities in Seoul.

As a result, steelmakers, banks and shipbuilders would advance in the foreseeable period, said Oh.

Institutions and foreigners propped up local stocks, net purchasing 90.6 billion ($83.94 million) won and 42.1 billion won worth respectively.

Electronics led the gains, with market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd advancing 2.3 percent and LG Display Co Ltd rising 1.7 percent.

Hyundai Motor Co shares were up 3.4 percent and its affiliate Kia Motors Co stepped up 1.6 percent after media reports said Hyundai Motor plans to build its fourth plant in China for about 1 trillion won.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 440 to 340.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 1.1 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged up 0.4 percent. ($1 = 1079.3500 Korean Won) (Editing by Eric Meijer)

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