Seoul shares steady as safe plays buoy telecoms, pharma
* Defensive plays buoy telecoms, pharmas
* SK Hynix and LG Display up more than 3 pct
* Builders Dohwa and Korea Eng up on Thai hopes
By Somang Yang
SEOUL, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Seoul shares were largely steady in early Wednesday trade as telecoms and pharmaceuticals buttressed the index while the exchange rate punished exporters.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked 0.1 percent higher at 1,940.69 points as of 0228 GMT.
"The KOSPI will continue to disappoint unless then yen weakens or some breakthrough occurs at the G20 meetings next week," said Kwak Joong-bo, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
The combination of a strengthening won and weakening yen has hit exporters, the mainstays of the index, as worries mount that their products will be less competitive abroad. The won is trading at 1,089.2 against the dollar, which is still stronger than the 1,100-mark exporters would prefer.
Hyundai Motor fell 1.47 percent, extending the week's 1.5 percent loss.
Communications and pharmaceutical sectors were among the biggest winners, as investors made defensive plays. The communications sub-index, which comprises South Korea's three telecom service providers SK Telecom, LG Uplus and KT was up 2.8 percent, accounting for 0.7 percent of the index move, according to Reuters data.
"Investment in infrastructure for the new LTE phone networks was largely taken care of last year and marketing costs are seen coming down this year ... so they will be more profitable now as LTE subscriptions rise," said Choi Yoon-mi, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.
The pharmaceuticals sub-index was up 1.7 percent.
Among blue-chips, Apple Inc. suppliers SK Hynix and LG Display were up roughly 3 percent, recovering from Tuesday's slump that was triggered by worries about first-quarter earnings.
Among small caps, builders Dohwa Engineering and Korea Engineering Consultants jumped near the 15 percent daily limit on hopes that they will win some orders for the Thai government's 12 trillion won ($11 billion) water management infrastructure programme.
Overall, advancing shares outnumbered decliners 466 to 306.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was flat, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 1 percent higher. (Editing by Daniel Magnowski)
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