SEOUL: South Korean shares rose modestly on Tuesday to a two-month high as hopes for an economic recovery in China, the country's top export market, buoyed cyclicals such as shipmakers and builders.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished up 0.4 percent at 1,964.62 points, its highest closing level since Oct. 9, continuing a rebound from a recent low hit in mid-November.
"Sectors such as shipbuilding and construction are highly sensitive to the economic outlook, which, as far as China is concerned, is gaining traction," said Park Hae-sung, an analyst at LIG Investment & Securities.
China's fiscal revenues grew at their fastest pace this year in November, jumping 22 percent from a year ago, in another encouraging sign that itstry's economic recovery is gaining speed.
Eyes are on the US Federal Reserve's tw-day meeting which starts on Tuesday to see if the central bank would unveil more measures to support the world's largest economy.
Shipbuilders led the charge, with the sector sub-index rallying 4.2 percent.
STX Offshore & Shipbuilding soared 7.2 percent following a media report that its parent firm STX Corporation was close to a deal to sell a controlling stake in Singapore-listed unit STX OSV Holdings.
The construction sub-index also rose 3 percent, with Daewoo Engineering & Construction up 3.1 percent and GS Engineering & Construction firming 3.4 percent.
Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics bucked the trend, easing 1 percent from a lifetime high hit in the previous session.
Foreign investors bought a net 197 billion Korean won ($182.55 million) worth of KOSPI shares, buying for an eighth straight session.
Declining shares slightly outnumbered winners 417 to 385.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks closed up 0.4 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ declined 1.6 percent.