Seoul shares steady before key corporate earnings, BOJ outcome
* Hanjin Shipping, Hanjin Shipping Hldgs rise on merger news
* SK Hynix fall on rival's decision to enhance production
SEOUL Jan 22 (Reuters) - Seoul shares were little-changed on Wednesday morning as investors paused before key corporate earnings results, taking a breather after back-to-back winning sessions.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was UP 1.29 points at 1,965.18 points as of 0240 GMT. The KOSPI has risen 1 percent in the previous two sessions.
"Although the October-December earnings have been adjusted downward, it has opened up room for an earnings shock - so investors are putting off big bets," said Dongbu Securities analyst Lee Eun-taek.
Automakers Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp will announce their fourth quarter earnings on Thursday, and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will announce its earnings on Friday.
The outcome of the Bank of Japan's two-day policy meeting due later in the day is being closely watched for the effect any announcement may have on the yen.
Retail investors were lone net buyers of KOSPI shares near mid-session, purchasing a net 29.6 billion won ($27.8 million) while foreigners sold a net 19.5 billion won of shares.
Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd and Hanjin Shipping Holdings Co Ltd rose 1.2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively, after local news media cited an official of Hanjin Group on Wednesday revealing a merger between the two companies and incorporation as a subsidiary of Korean Air Lines Co Ltd.
Weighing on the index was DRAM memory chipmaker SK Hynix Inc , which dropped 1.9 percent on news that its Japanese competitor Elpida Memory Inc decided to invest 800 billion yen ($7.67 billion) to boost its DRAM memory production by 20 percent.
GS Engineering & Construction Co Ltd dipped 2.8 percent as investors locked in profits from the previous session's 4.5 percent jump.
Decliners edged out advancers 382 to 366.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy junior KOSDAQ edged 0.3 percent higher. ($1 = 1065.3000 Korean won) ($1 = 104.2850 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Eric Meijer)