Seoul shares steady at 3-week high ahead of G20 meeting

Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:50pm EST

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SEOUL, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Seoul shares were rangebound Friday morning after touching a three-week-plus high the previous session, weighed down by worries about a deepening recession in Europe as investors monitor the G20's Moscow meeting.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked 0.09 percent lower at 1,977.89 points as of 0234 GMT.

Data showed the euro zone slipped deeper than expected into recession in the last three months of 2012, weighing on the KOSPI.

"Investors are sitting on the fence after KOSPI's recent rebound and ahead of the G20 meeting. The meeting would pave the way to put a brake on the sharp fall of the yen for the past two months," said Cho Young-hyun, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities.

During the two-day meeting, finance officials from the Group of 20 nations are expected to debate Japan's monetary expansion policies that have driven down the value of the yen.

A weaker yen has sent the KOSPI falling in recent months, as it benefits Japanese exporters which directly compete with South Korean firms in automobile and other sectors.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors lost ground after recent gains, falling 2.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In contrast, Ssangyong Motor Co firmed 2.7 percent after the automaker said its top shareholder India's Mahindra & Mahindra would participate in its new share issue worth $74 million.

KB Financial Group dropped 1.7 percent after Dutch financial services group ING said it sold its 5 percent stake in South Korea to institutional investors for about 500 million euros ($672 million).

Korean Air Lines fell 1.2 percent after the carrier said it is conducting due diligence to buy a 44 percent stake in Czech Airlines (CSA). (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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