Seoul shares tread water as yen slides after G20 meeting
* Hyundai Motor, Kia fall on concerns about weaker yen
* Shipbuilders, telecom firms gain ground
SEOUL Feb 18 (Reuters) - South Korean stocks edged down on Monday morning as the yen declined after Group of 20 policymakers did not single out Japan for policies that have weakened its currency.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.14 percent at 1,978.41 points as of 0210 GMT, having traded in a narrow range.
Resumed foreign buying was offset by selling by retail investors.
"Investors expected G20 leaders to find common ground in averting the yen's further falls, but the meeting failed to produce major achievements," said Kim Sung-soo, a fund manger at LS Asset Investment.
The yen lost ground on Monday after Japan escaped criticism from its G20 peers on its loose monetary policy that have weakened the currency and raised international complaints of competitive advantage.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday pledged to keep the country's expansive monetary policy until the central bank's 2 percent inflation target is achieved, further weighing down the yen.
A weaker yen benefits Japanese exporters, which directly compete with South Korean companies in automobile and other sectors in overseas markets.
"The KOSPI, which has been decoupled from its overseas peers in recent months because of a softer yen and foreign selling, will see a technical rebound to the 1,920- and 1,930-levels. But it will be difficult for the KOSPI to rise sharply as long as the weak yen persists," Kim said.
Automakers lost ground, with Hyundai Motor down 1.9 percent and Kia Motors losing 1.3 percent.
But shipbuilders and telecommunications stocks gained ground.
Hyundai Heavy Industries rose 2.4 percent and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering gained 1 percent.
SK Telecom, South Korea's top mobile carrier, firmed 2.1 percent, while third-placed LG Uplus advanced 2.4 percent.
Among heavyweights, Samsung Electronics snapped a five-day gain, falling 0.5 percent. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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