Seoul shares flat; Samsung buoyed by US ruling, expected record profits
* KOSPI pares earlier gains * Samsung Elec rises to near 5-mth high on earnings outlook, U.S. court decision * Automakers mixed By Hyunjoo Jin SEOUL, Oct 2 (Reuters) - On an otherwise flat day on the South Korean share market, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd gained 1.71 percent to register its highest close in nearly five months, thanks to buying ahead of quarterly results due later this week and a favorable U.S. court ruling in its patent battle with Apple Inc. Goldman Sachs expects Samsung, South Korea's most valuable stock, to post a fourth consecutive quarter of record profits, estimating operating profit at 7.8 trillion Korean won ($7.02 billion) for the July to September period, up 83 percent on a year earlier due to robust sales of Galaxy S III smartphone. A U.S. court also removed a temporary sales ban against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, which had been won by Apple in a patent dispute, allowing the South Korean electronics maker to sell the product in the United States. [ID: nL3E8L21BB] Elsewhere in the market, investors were reluctant to build positions on a day wedged between two national holidays. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed down 0.01 percent at 1,996.03 points. South Korean stock markets were closed on Monday for a holiday, and will be closed again on Wednesday. "The momentum is weak on the 'sandwich' day when trading volume is thin," Kim Young-joon, an analyst at SK Securities, said. Foreign investors reduced their net-buying of South Korean stocks, while institutional investors stepped up selling. Persistent concerns over the weak state of the global economy weighed on sentiment despite a surprising expansion in U.S. factory activity. U.S. manufacturing grew slightly last month for the first time since May, but euro zone factories suffered their worst quarter since early 2009 and factory activity in China also contracted. South Korean carmakers were mixed, with Hyundai Motor down 2.18 percent and Kia Motors jumping 3.46 percent. Kia Motors shares recently underperformed sibling Hyundai Motor, weighed down by concerns that last month's labour strikes at South Korean plants would hurt its earnings and sales in the third quarter. But Choi Dae-sik, an analyst at BS Investment & Securities, said the concerns were overdone. Shares in POSCO were flat after a consortium including the South Korean steelmaker and Noble Group urged Arrium directors to continue discussions after the Australian miner and steel maker rejected a A$1.01 billion ($1.04 billion) takeover offer. Move on day -0.01 percent 12-month high 2,057.28 14 March 2012 12-month low 1,666.52 5 Oct 2011 Change on yr +9.33 percent All-time high 2,231.47 27 April 2011 All-time low 93.10 6 January 1981 ($1 = 1111.4250 Korean won) (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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