Seoul shares steady; Samsung Elec eases from lifetime high
* Samsung Electronics eases from lifetime high
* Shipbuilders rally
* STX affiliates surge on report of stake sale
By Somang Yang
SEOUL, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Seoul shares were traded marginally higher on Tuesday morning, led by shipbuilders, while heavyweight Samsung Electronics softened from a new lifetime high.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked 0.18 percent higher at 1,960.89 points as of 0245 GMT, paring most of its gains earlier in the day.
"Increased efforts towards a fiscal deal in Washington means the index can rise to the 1,980-mark, but profit taking on Samsung Electronics is weighing on the index," said Kim Ho-yoon, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities.
Samsung Electronics fell 1.1 percent, easing from an all-time high reached the previous session on a rosy earnings outlook due to the popularity of its smartphones.
The White House and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner's office held more negotiations on Monday in a bid to avert a fiscal crisis, although neither side showed any public signs of giving ground.
Shipbuilders outperformed, with the sector sub-index rallying 3.6 percent. STX Offshore & Shipbuilding soared nearly 10 percent following a media report that its parent firm STX Corporation was close to a deal to sell a controlling stake in Singapore-listed affiliate STX OSV Holdings.
Shares in other STX affiliates rallied, with shipper STX Pan Ocean jumping by the daily limit of 15 percent.
Foreigners and local institutions were net buyers, offsetting selling by retail investors.
Declining shares outnumbered winners 428 to 329.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.2 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 1 percent lower.