* Investors look for bargains as yen worries ease
* Upside could be limited as investors eye U.S., China data
SEOUL Jan 7 Seoul shares edged higher in early
trading on Tuesday, shrugging off Samsung Electronics Co's
disappointing fourth-quarter forecast on bargain
hunting and easing concerns about the yen's fall.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up
0.3 percent at 1,958.77 as of 0145 GMT, on track to record its
second consecutive day of gains.
Samsung Electronics earlier on Tuesday said it expects its
fourth-quarter operating profit to fall 18 percent from the
July-September period to 8.3 trillion Korean won ($7.79
billion), well below the 9.75 trillion won Thomson Reuters'
Starmine SmartEstimate of 23 analysts.
Some analysts had said poor numbers from South Korea's
largest company by market capitalisation could weigh on the
overall index, but investors appeared to have shrugged off the
news and were looking for bargain hunting opportunities.
"Although Samsung's forecast came in well below consensus,
the market is taking it in a stride and seeing it as an
elimination of an uncertainty," said IBK Securities analyst Kim
Soon-young. "The yen-won rate has picked up recently, so that's
also boosting the autos-related exporters."
The South Korean won recorded its biggest drop in
6-1/2 months against the dollar on Monday, which in turn drove
it lower against the yen.
The won's slide continued in early domestic trade Tuesday,
further easing concerns about local exporters' price
Foreigners were net buyers of 72.2 billion won worth of
local stocks early Tuesday, marking the second straight session
of offshore inflows.
"The Kospi is attempting to stage a rebound after hitting
important support levels, and it's more likely that this pickup
will be sustained," Tong Yang Securities said in a report,
adding that 2,000 will serve as an important resistance level
for the index going forward.
But IBK's Kim said the market's upside may be limited with
investors waiting for key events such as the U.S. employment
data due this Friday. Latest set of economic indicators from
China, due later this week, will also be watched closely.
Shares of Kia Motors Corp and Hyundai Motor Co
rose 1.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, as
the won's recent slide against the yen eased concerns about the
automakers' earnings prospects.
Samsung Electronics' shares were down 0.1 percent in early
trade, however, as weaker-than-expected earnings outlook raised
fresh doubts about the company's prospects this year.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 459 to 293.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.2
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ was 0.5 percent higher.
($1 = 1065.5000 Korean won)
(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Anand Basu)