Seoul stocks firm, but cautious, after Wall Street rebound

Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:52pm EDT

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* KOSPI holds firm after setting over 3-mth highs
    * Won inches down, but analysts have upbeat outlook

    By Jungmin Jang
    SEOUL, April 15 (Reuters) - Seoul shares held firm after touching their
strongest level in more than three months on Tuesday morning after gains on Wall
Street, but investors remained cautious on uncertainty over global economic and
policy prospects.
    The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.1 percent at
1,998.90 points as of 0240 GMT after touching an intraday high of 2,009.04, its
highest since Jan. 2.
    "The sentiment remains quite fragile as questions regarding local corporate
earnings and policy prospects in the euro zone and China are still up in the
air," said Kim Yong-goo, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
    Reflecting the fragile sentiment, local institutional investors were quick
to lock in profits, selling a net 133 billion won ($128 million) worth of KOSPI
shares in the morning. Foreigners picked up a net 36 billion won worth.
    Cosmetics stocks gained on upbeat earnings outlook, with AmorePacific Corp
 and Cosmax Inc rising 3.7 percent and 2 percent,
respectively.
    In contrast, a grim earnings outlook dragged down shipbuilders as Hyundai
Heavy Industries Co Ltd fell 1.6 percent and Samsung Heavy
Industries Co Ltd dropped 2.2 percent.
    In the foreign exchange market, the won inched lower on dollar demand
from foreign share investors converting their dividends paid by South Korean
companies.
    The local currency was quoted at 1,040.7 against the dollar as of
0240 GMT, down 0.2 percent from Monday's onshore close at 1,038.9.
    Despite a lacklustre trend this week, analysts said the won's outlook was
firm, with investment bank ING saying in a client note on Tuesday that it may
cut the year-end target for the dollar/won pair from the current 1,060 won.
                       0240 GMT    Prev close
 Dollar/won            1,040.7       1,038.9
 Yen/won           10.2140/189       10.2021
 *KTB futures           105.72        105.75
 KOSPI                1,998.90      1,997.02
 * Front-month futures on three-year treasury bonds
($1 = 1038.8500 Korean Won)

 (Editing by Choonsik Yoo and Eric Meijer)
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