* State-run utilities, Solar energy companies rise
* Grim 4Q outlook brings down Kumho Petro, Lotte Chemical
SEOUL Jan 9 Seoul shares were little changed on
Thursday morning as cautious sentiment prevailed before U.S.
nonfarm payrolls data and corporate earnings results, muting
the rate decision by the South Korean central bank on options
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up
0.03 percent at 1,959.48 points as of 0237 GMT.
"Internally, with the dollar/won and yen/won exchange rates
somewhat stabilising, grim corporate earnings outlook is left as
a downside pressure," said Ko Seung-hee, a market analyst at SK
Securities. "Externally, it has to be U.S. jobs data due late
Friday, as it is an indicator on predicting the Federal
Reserve's tapering pace.
South Korea's central bank kept interest rates steady for an
eighth straight month on Thursday, standing back to monitor the
effects of the Federal Reserve's stimulus tapering and the
weakening of the Japanese yen.
State-run utilities company Korea Electric Power Corp
(KEPCO) and Korea Gas Corp rose 3
percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, on an improved earnings
outlook following a utility price increase.
Price rises in polysilicon lifted solar energy companies on
hopes of better earnings prospects, with OCI Co Ltd
advancing 3.6 percent and Hanwha Chemical gaining
Meanwhile, jitters about weak fourth quarter earnings
continued to spook investors, with Kumho Petro Chemical Co Ltd
and Lotte Chemical Corp tumbling 5
percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.
Foreign investors are set to be net buyers for a fourth
straight session, picking up a net 6.2 billion won ($5.8
million) worth of KOSPI shares near the mid-session.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 390 to 362.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was
unchanged, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.2 percent