Seoul shares retreat as exchange rate weighs on exporters

Thu Jan 3, 2013 10:44pm EST

* Samsung Electronics down by more than 2 pct

* LG Display down on Apple, 1Q13 concerns

* Autos continue to slide but Hyundai Motor up

* Hyundai Elevator falls 5 pct after Thursday's 15 pct gain

By Somang Yang

SEOUL, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Seoul shares slipped on Friday morning as renewed concerns about the strength of the won currency took a toll on exporters, which are the mainstays of the South Korean economy.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked down 0.8 percent to 2,003.24 points as of 0253 GMT.

"Some of this is correction after the big gains from the 'fiscal cliff' resolution. However, losses are widened by selling pressure on exporters as the yen weakens," said Kang Hyun-ki, at IM Investment & Securities.

Japanese exporters, who compete fiercely with South Korean companies in overseas markets, stand to benefit if the yen weakens, particularly if the won strengthens simultaneously.

The Japanese yen has weakened by nearly 15 percent against the Korean won in the last six months and is now trading at its lowest since May 2010 according to Reuters data.

Heavyweight Samsung Electronics shed 2.1 percent, underperforming the index.

"Samsung's retreat is a correction to big recent gains ahead of what is expected to be blockbuster fourth-quarter profits," said Choi Do-yeon, a tech analyst at LIG Investment & Securities.

Shares in the world's biggest smartphone maker have risen by nearly 10 percent since the start of December to Thursday's close.

Meanwhile, shares in Apple supplier LG Display fell 3.5 percent after local brokerage Kyobo Securities expressed concern about its first quarter earnings, citing Apple's weakening market share in tablets and smartphones.

Auto-related shares shed 1 percent, extending Thursday's 4.5 percent tumble on concerns that a strong won will erode their overseas earnings.

Kia Motors was down by 1.8 percent, hitting a nearly 2-year-low.

However, Hyundai Motor was up by a modest 0.2 percent, after Thursday's 4.6 percent dive.

Among daily movers, Hyundai Elevator fell 5 percent. This follows a 14.8 percent jump in the previous session as a battle between its two biggest shareholders heats up.

Overall, declining shares outnumbered winners 397 to 375.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.9 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.9 percent higher. (Additional reporting by Seongwon Chang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)