Seoul shares dip to 1-week low as China data, Ukraine weigh
* Soft Chinese exports data hurt sentiment, U.S. jobs news supports
* Latest Russia/Ukraine jitters weigh
By Christine Kim
SEOUL, March 10 (Reuters) - Seoul shares slipped to a one-week low early on Monday as investors were kept on their toes by the fluid situation in Ukraine while risk sentiment was dented by worse-than-expected data from China over the weekend.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.9 percent at 1,957.48 points as of 0157 GMT, the index's lowest since March 4.
Data on Saturday showed China's exports unexpectedly fell last month, which resulted in a trade deficit and sparked worries over a slowdown in the economy, although the soft data was attributed to fewer working days.
Investors were also kept on edge after Russian forces seized another border post and a military airfield in Ukraine, tightening their military grip on Crimea.
These factors put a damper on risk sentiment that had been boosted earlier by U.S. nonfarm payrolls data, which showed U.S. job growth jumped in February, keeping the U.S. Federal Reserve on track for further stimulus trimming.
"The local index has struggled to gain firm trading directions even with positive economic indicators - (this week's) mixed data will likely result in scrambled trade and make it an uncomfortable week for investors," said Seo Dong-pil, a strategist at IBK Securities in Seoul.
"The China data was a warning for investors to keep vigilant, because not everything can be good all the time."
Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Bookook Securities, said trade this week would stagnate as investors hunker down for the Fed's policy meeting next week.
Foreign investors net sold 61.6 billion won ($58.08 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, along with institutions that offloaded a 93.7 billion won worth.
Decliners outnumbered advancers 477 to 304.
Lotte Chemical Corp tumbled 5.2 percent on brokerage reports that the company would post worse-than-expected earnings in the first quarter of the year.
Naver Corp far outperformed the bourse, up 3.2 percent, on local brokerage reports that the company's messenger app, Line, was receiving increasing interest from potential investors offshore.
Nongshim Co Ltd shares jumped 3.7 percent after the company reported it had posted record sales of instant noodles in China over January and February, thanks to the popularity of a South Korean television series there.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.9 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.2 percent higher. ($1 = 1060.6500 Korean won) (Additional reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Eric Meijer)