* Samsung Elec rally on the back of bargain seekers
* Bird flu drives vaccine, fisheries up
* Personal information leakage drag KB Financial, Lotte
SEOUL, Jan 20 Seoul shares steadied on Monday
morning, buoyed by better-than-expected economic growth in China
and bargain hunting, but investors stayed cautious at the start
of a week that will offer macroeconomic cues from home and
abroad as well as corporate earnings.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up
0.2 percent at 1,948.97 points as of 0220 GMT.
"The market still needs to shake off lingering uncertainties
about firm global economic recovery, the pace of the Federal
Reserve's stimulus cut and corporate results for a meaningful
upward push," said Lim Dong-rak, a market analyst at Hanyang
Securities. "However the market's bottom is strongly supported
by cheap valuation of local stocks, which will set up the market
for another lacklustre week."
China's annual economic growth eased to 7.7 percent between
October and December 2013 from 7.8 percent in the previous three
months, slightly ahead of market expectations for growth of 7.6
percent, data showed on Monday.
South Korea will release its own fourth quarter GDP data on
Also, later this week big-names such as Samsung Electronics
Co Ltd and Hyundai Motor Co are scheduled to report their
Investors will also keep an eye on a Bank of Japan policy
meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, though the central bank is
expected to leave its massive asset buying program unchanged.
Earlier this month Samsung Electronics Co Ltd,
which accounts for nearly a fifth of total market
capitalisation, reported weaker-than-expected preliminary
fourth-quarter earnings sending the share to its lowest level in
five months on Jan 10.
Bargain hunters helpted the share gain 1.5 percent on
Monday, with final fourth quarter earnings due to be released on
The outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in the country
brought pharmaceuticals and fishery stocks higher, with VGX
International Inc and Dongwon Fisheries Co Ltd
jumping 11 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on
Saturday said the case reported at a farm in the southwestern
country of Gochang, about 300 km (186 miles) from Seoul, was of
the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain.
Meanwhile, the biggest customer information leakage by
unlisted Lotte Card, KB Card, and Nonghyup Card dragged their
respective affiliates. Lotte Shopping Co Ltd dropped
1.8 percent while KB Financial Group Inc slipped 0.9
The Financial Supervisory Services (FSS) said the personal
information that had been leaked accumulates to more than 100
million, and issued a consumer alert on Sunday.
Institutional investors sold a net 10.7 billion won ($10.1
million) worth of KOSPI shares by near mid-session, while
decliners outnumbered advancers 445 to 315.
($1 = 1059.7500 Korean won)
(Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)