Seoul shares soft amid U.S. tech sector cheer

Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:11pm EDT

* Shares under pressure on profit-taking
    * Upbeat news on Apple, Facebook earnings fails to boost
    * Won up slightly on foreign stock fund inflows, exporters

    By Choonsik Yoo
    SEOUL, April 24 (Reuters) - Seoul shares drifted lower by
midday on Thursday, hit by broad profit-taking that offset gains
in Samsung and other heavyweights and as a rally in Apple and
Facebook failed to give a boost.
    The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was
down 0.05 percent at 1,999.34 points by 0250 GMT after reversing
from an early brief rise. Losers far outweighed gainers 548 to
239, reflecting the broad sell-off in smaller-capitalised
    Shares in technology heavyweights Apple Inc and
Facebook Inc rallied in after-hours trading on stronger
earnings reports, with Apple also announcing a share buyback and
stock split.
    "Many took the 2,000-point mark (in KOSPI) as a strong
barrier and opted to cash in recent gains, thinking the news on
Apple and Facebook has only a mixed impact on Korean companies,"
said Park So-yeon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities.
    Samsung Electronics is a main rival of Apple for
smartphones and a growing market share for the iPhone maker may
mean a stronger challenge for the Galaxy producer unless the
global market expands fast, analysts said.
    Samsung shares did rise 1.2 percent to 1,406,000 won, but
analysts said the gain was more based on expectations for
improving earnings in the near future than on the latest rally
in Apple's share price.
    KOSPI's sub-index on large-sized companies rose 0.1
percent whereas medium- and small-sized issues  
posted declines of nearly 1 percent each.
    Investors shrugged off the central bank's estimates that
Asia's fourth-largest economy grew slightly faster than the
market's expectations in the first quarter on firmer exports and
an upswing in construction investment. 
    Foreign investors extended their net-buying streak into an
eighth consecutive session, although their purchases were modest
at a net 32.57 billion won ($31.39 million).
    In the local currency market, the won was up 0.2
percent at 1,037.8 per dollar by 0250 GMT on continued share
purchases by foreigners and on dollar sales by exporters.
    June futures on three-year treasury bonds fell 0.01
point to 105.72. 
                      0250 GMT    Prev close
 KOSPI                1,999.34      2,006.26
 Dollar/won            1,037.8       1,038.6
 Yen/won           10.1338/387       10.1351
 *KTB futures           105.72        105.73
 * Front-month futures on three-year treasury bonds

 (Additional reporting by Yena Park; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)