Seoul shares lose ground as U.S. fiscal concerns, Greece weigh

Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:35pm EST

Related Topics

* Blue-chips mixed; shipbuilders fall on weak outlook

* Department stores see steep gains on winter wear revenue

SEOUL Nov 13 (Reuters) - Seoul shares inched down on Tuesday morning as investor interest remained captive to U.S. fiscal concerns and uncertain timing for a crucial Greek bailout.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked 0.64 percent lower at 1,888.61 points as of 0221 GMT, after opening in positive territory.

"Due to external issues such as U.S. fiscal concerns or Greece, investor sentiment isn't exactly robust," said Cho Byung-hyun, an analyst at Tong Yang Securities.

"However, valuation remains attractive and could spark bargain-hunting if the index falls further. So the main board is seen largely maintaining its level."

South Korean stocks mirrored the easing in Asian shares on Tuesday, as they came under pressure from worries about a U.S. fiscal policy standoff and deepening uncertainty over the euro zone's debt crisis, with global lenders holding back from giving further aid to debt-stricken Greece.

Blue chips were mixed, with tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics slipping 1.1 percent while steelmaker POSCO rose 0.9 percent.

Shares in the transportation equipment sector were down, led by shipbuilders extending losses from the last session as falling orders weakened the outlook.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering slipped 3.7 percent while STX Offshore & Shipbuilding slumped 4.2 percent.

Department store operators bucked the trend with steep gains. Hyundai Department Store rose 6.6 percent, Lotte Shopping climbed 3.3 percent, and Shinsegae gained 3.2 percent.

"The sudden cold weather led to increased revenues from high-margin winter wear such as coats and padded jumpers," said Yeo Yeong-sang, a retail sector analyst at Korea Investment & Securities.

Foreign investors net sold 34.1 billion Korean won ($31.33 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, weighing on the index. Declining shares outnumbered winners 569 to 223.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.7 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.7 percent lower. ($1 = 1088.5500 Korean won) (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Chikako Mogi in TOKYO; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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