Seoul shares claw higher after 3-wk low but cautious before US jobs

Thu Dec 5, 2013 10:10pm EST

* KOSPI on track for worst weekly loss since late June

* LG Display, LG Innotek rise on improved earnings outlook

* Foreigners on track to net sell for a 4th straight day

SEOUL, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Seoul shares clawed higher on Friday after hitting a three-week closing low the pervious day, but trading was light as investors anxiously awaited the latest U.S. payrolls report for clues on when the Federal Reserve will start reducing its stimulus.

On Thursday, Wall Street fell for a fifth straight day as better-than-expected U.S. data including gross domestic product and jobless claims added to speculation the Fed could begin slowing its stimulus soon. The nonfarm payrolls report for November is due later on Friday.

"Normally, a series of strong U.S. data would trigger the market's rise, but the ongoing Fed tapering talk is hindering such a pattern," said Ko Seung-hee, an analyst at SK Securities. "Investors are curious whether the U.S. jobs data due later in the day can clarify the matter."

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 0.1 percent to 1,986.65 points by 0302 GMT after touching an intraday low of 1,980.44.

The KOSPI is on track to snap three straight weeks of gains and suffer its worst weekly loss since late June.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Hyundai Motor Co , two of the largest KOSPI components, were flat.

Panel maker LG Display Co Ltd and LG Innotek , key suppliers to Apple Inc, advanced 4.7 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively, buoyed by hopes of China Mobile Ltd reaching a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone.

Woori Financial Co Ltd rose 4.4 percent on news that banking group KB Financial Group Inc was chosen as the preferred bidder for a controlling stake in Woori. KB Financial Group shares were unchanged.

Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd rose 1.5 percent after it said in a regulatory filing on Friday it won a 1.49 trillion won ($1.4 billion) order in Venezuela to build an oil refinery from the country's state oil company PDVSA Petroleo S.A.

Foreign investors sold a net 21.6 billion won ($20.4 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, on course for a fourth straight day of selling.

Declining shares outnumbered winners 390 to 346.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks and the junior KOSDAQ both gained 0.2 percent.

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