Seoul shares edge up in see-saw session, won gains hurt autos

Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:14pm EST

Related Topics

* Automakers lose ground as won resumes rises

* SK Hynix leads tech shares higher after Q4 earnings

* LG Chem slumps on weak earnings; KEPCO down

SEOUL, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Seoul shares edged slightly higher in see-saw trade on Wednesday morning as the firmer South Korean won hurt automakers, while technology shares rose led by SK Hynix.

Foreign investors, who snapped up stocks earlier in the day, turned into net sellers, weighing on the market.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked up 0.25 percent to 1,960.84 points as of 0211 GMT after oscillating between slight gains and losses.

"The KOSPI has underperformed Asian peers this year because of the won-yen exchange rate, concerns about technology and automobile sectors - two big cash cows - and foreign sell-off," said Lee Sang-won, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.

"There are expectations the South Korean government would come up with measures to stem the appreciation of the won," he said.

The KOSPI has fallen about 2 percent so far this year, where as Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan went up 3 percent.

Auto shares slumped as the South Korean won resumed its gains on Tuesday and Wednesday, threatening to hurt automakers' earnings and price competitiveness.

Hyundai Motor, South Korea's top automaker, fell 1.9 percent, while affiliate Kia Motors slumped 1.2 percent.

SK Hynix went up 1.5 percent, leading gains in the technology sector after the chipmaker returned to a quarterly profit. Bigger rival Samsung Electronics gained 0.9 percent.

"There are expectations that the worst may be over for SK Hynix, with DRAM contract prices rebounding in January due to reduced capacity for computer chips, helping improve its first-quarter earnings," said Kim Ji-woong, an analyst at E*trade Securities.

In contrast, LG Chem slumped 2.9 percent after the chemicals and battery maker reported a 28-percent drop in fourth-quarter operating profit on Tuesday, as a weak global economy dented demand.

Korea Electric Power (KEPCO) skidded 4 percent as its chief executive dashed hopes of a further hike in electric fees this year, after the power supplier raised prices by 4 percent from Jan. 14. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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