S.Korea shares hit 6-wk low on Fed concerns; China data supports
(Updates to midday)
* Shipyards and steel sectors fall on profit-taking
* Hyundai Merchant Marine rises on hopes of Mt.Kumkang tourism resuming
SEOUL, Aug 22 (Reuters) - South Korea shares traded at their lowest intraday level in six weeks on Thursday morning on bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve could taper its stimulus next month -- although strong manufacturing data from China offered some support.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 1.0 percent at 1,848.80 points as of 0239 GMT after touching an intraday low of 1,838.52, the weakest since July 10.
The Fed's July meeting minutes offered nothing to change investors' wagers on a reduction in the central bank's bond-purchasing programme in September, weighing on sentiment for Asian stocks.
But the flash HSBC purchasing managers' index for China rose to 50.1 from July's final reading of 47.7, reinforcing signs of stabilisation in the world's second-largest economy and boosting the Kospi.
"The Chinese data is balancing the Fed tapering concerns to a certain degree, which is a relief," said Hyundai Securities senior analyst Rhoo Yong-seok.
Shipyards Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co Ltd and Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co Ltd declined 2.2 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, giving up their recent gains amid a broad market decline. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd also dipped 1.4 percent.
Steel producers POSCO and Hyundai Steel Co dropped 1.4 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively, as investors took profits.
Conglomerate Hyundai Group's affiliate Hyundai Merchant Marine Co rose 10.4 percent after North Korea proposed talks with the South about resuming tours of Mt. Kumkang in late August or early September.
Decliners outnumbered gainers 690 to 93.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks slipped 0.7 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ declined 1.6 percent. (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Eric Meijer)
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