Seoul shares fall on profit-taking ahead of earnings season
* Tech shares down; Samsung Elec falls 1.3 percent
* Shippers Korea Line and STX Pan Ocean down after recent gains
* Auto shares up after recent losses on weakening yen
SEOUL, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Seoul shares fell on Monday morning in choppy trade as investors took profits in sectors that have made recent gains before the onset of the corporate earnings reports' season.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) eased 0.6 percent lower at 2,000.02 points as of 0220 GMT.
"Investors are taking profits in sectors that had seen steep gains since November such as industrial materials, including Samsung Electronics," said Bae Sung-young, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.
Tech shares fell as the mid-session approached. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd dropped 1.3 percent ahead of its fourth earnings estimate to be announced on early Tuesday.
LG Electronics Inc slipped 0.6 percent while Samsung SDI Co Ltd fell 1 percent.
"The won-dollar exchange rate is seen as the main reason exporters such as tech shares are falling, plus there are concerns that China's smartphone market is undergoing an inventory adjustment," said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Securities.
The South Korean won edged up to a new 16-month high against the dollar early on Monday.
STX Pan Ocean Co Ltd and Korea Line Corp , South Korea's first and second-largest bulk carrier shippers, fell at least 0.3 percent after recent steep gains driven by investor hopes for both shippers' respective sales.
Korea Line Corp plans to select a preferred bidder to acquire management control by Jan. 22, the Korea Economic Daily newspaper reported on Monday.
STX Corp has chosen Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered Securities Korea Ltd to advise a sale of about 35 percent stake in STX Pan Ocean, a source with direct knowledge of the matter has told Reuters earlier.
But auto shares gained after falling 6.5 percent during the previous week as the weakening yen was expected to benefit Japanese competitors. Hyundai Motor Co climbed 0.7 percent.
Local institutional and foreign investors sold a net 88 billion won ($83 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, weighing on the index.
Declining shares outnumbered winners 437 to 308.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.6 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.6 percent higher. ($1 = 1063.6500 Korean won) (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)