Seoul shares fall, positions squared before Jackson Hole

Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:47pm EDT

* Index down 1.4 pct in low volume

* Halla Climate rises 2.9 pct on buyout hopes

SEOUL Aug 30 (Reuters) - Seoul shares fell 1.4 percent on Thursday morning as investors squared positions ahead of the Jackson Hole, Wyoming meeting of central bankers that many hope will provide further clues about the potential for further U.S. stimulus.

"The main board is sagging due to sell orders from local institutional investors and program trading, in the relative absence of trading volume before the speech at Jackson Hole," said Kim Young-joon, an analyst at SK Securities.

"Program selling from foreign investors appear to be natural profit-taking before a key event."

Only 324 million shares had exchanged hands as of 0210 GMT, a little over half the last five-session average trading volume. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell to 1,901.41 as of 0215 GMT.

Decliners far outnumbered gainers, 548 to 231, with market heavyweight Samsung Electronics giving up ground gained the day before with a 1.4 percent decline.

Refineries lost ground after U.S. crude oil prices fell on Wednesday as Gulf Coast refineries and platforms escaped damage from Hurricane Isaac. SK Innovation fell 4 percent and S-Oil was down 3.7 percent.

But car air-conditioner maker Halla Climate jumped 2.9 percent after Mando Corp said it was considering a buyout of Halla Climate. Halla Climate is majority owned by U.S. auto parts supplier Visteon.

Mando, which also said that it had chosen an advisor but not decided the specifics of a proposal, rose 0.3 percent.

Foreign and local institutional investors net sold a combined 234 billion won ($206 million) worth of KOSPI shares as of 0203 GMT, weighing on the index.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 1.5 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ was flat. ($1 = 1133.4500 Korean won) (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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