Seoul shares skid to 5-1/2-mth low on weak global growth

Mon Feb 3, 2014 9:23pm EST

* Offshore investors continue to sell-off KOSPI stocks

* Shares in red dominate main board, brokerage shares drag

* Kia Motors advances in response to strong U.S. sales

SEOUL, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Seoul shares fell to their lowest in 5-1/2 months on Tuesday morning after weaker-than-expected factory growth in the two largest economies hit risk sentiment, adding pressure to battered emerging markets.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 1.5 percent at 1,891.47 points as of 0205 GMT after touching an intraday low of 1,886.34, its lowest since Aug. 28.

"One event risk after another continues to add pressure to the market," said Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Bookook Securities. "Tightened liquidity alongside weak economic indicators will lead you nowhere but downwards."

U.S. factory growth in January slumped to its slowest in eight months as new order growth plunged by the most in 33 years, two separate private surveys showed on Monday.

This was in line with sluggish growth in China, in which its manufacturing sector slowed to a six-month low while its service sector grew at its slowest pace in five years.

Aside from weak economic indicators from the United States and China, analysts say that given time, the South Korean market will differentiate itself from other emerging markets such as Argentina with its firm fundamentals as it had done in September.

The KOSPI managed to post a 3.7 percent gain on the back of flourishing foreign capital inflows despite Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia and India tumbling on worries over tapering in stimulus by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Still, the KOSPI is moving along with other emerging markets in the near term, with the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 1.6 percent as of 0205 GMT.

Offshore investors sold a net 162.1 billion won ($149.46 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, sustaining their net-selling stance that has led to more than 1.7 trillion won in capital outflows this year by Monday.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 689 to 120 while all 23 Korea Exchange sub-indexes were in the red, with the Securities sector leading all sectoral declines. Mirae Asset Securities Co Ltd and Samsung Securities Co Ltd fell 4.1 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.

Hyundai Elevator Co Ltd was in the mix among bottom performers, dipping 4.3 percent after its second-largest stakeholder Schindler Group on Monday said it would not participate in Hyundai Elevator's capital increase and give up its preemptive right of the newly-issued shares.

Meanwhile, Kia Motors Corp bucked the trend by gaining 1.1 percent on the back of bullish sales in the U.S. market. The automaker's U.S. unit said on Monday that its January sales increased nearly 2 percent from a year ago.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks fell 1.6 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ slipped 1.2 percent.

($1 = 1084.5500 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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