S.Korean shares up marginally; Ukraine and China risks cap gains

Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:38pm EDT

* Seoul shares recoup some of last week's losses

* Investors ponder risks stemming from Ukraine, China

* Kospi may trade within 1,900-1,950 band this week -analyst

By Se Young Lee

SEOUL, March 17 (Reuters) - South Korean shares edged higher on Monday as some investors looked for bargains, but gains were offset by escalating tensions in Ukraine and worries about China's slowing economy.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.2 percent at 1,923.19 points as of 0225 GMT and was trading within a narrow band amid continued caution about external developments.

Crimeans overwhelmingly voted to break with Ukraine to join Russia. While the outcome of the vote was expected, investors are worried about how far Russia's standoff against the United States and the European Union will escalate amid warnings of imminent sanctions against Moscow.

"What transpired over the weekend isn't strong enough to trigger a shock, and I imagine there are investors who are buying today on valuations after last week's considerable decline," said Shinhan Investment analyst Han Beom-ho, who expected the KOSPI to trade within a band of 1,900 and 1,950 this week.

"At the same time, there is more for investors to consider now; there will be talks about sanctions following the vote in Crimea, and Russia also holds a weapon in its natural gas exports to Europe so there is possibility of conflict."

Investors were also pondering the ramifications of China's decision to widen the yuan's trading band and worrying about tighter credit conditions in the world's second-largest economy.

Foreigners were net sellers of local stocks on Monday, on track for the sixth consecutive session of outflows.

Shares of LG Display Co. and Kia Motors Corp. were up 7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively buoyed by bargain-hunting interests.

Shares of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. were up 3.9 percent on hopes for stronger earnings after the company said it got a 339.3 billion Korean won ship order.

SK Hynix Inc was down 3.2 percent, however, on worries about separate lawsuits filed against the company by Toshiba Corp. and SanDisk Corp..

Toshiba and SanDisk seek damages over the suspected theft of data related to their flagship flash memory chip technology used in smartphones and tablet computers.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 490 to 290.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.2 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ was down 1.6 percent.

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A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

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