* Offshore investors continue to sell-off KOSPI stocks
* Shares in red dominate main board, brokerage shares drag
* Kia Motors advances in response to strong U.S. sales
SEOUL, Feb 4 Seoul shares fell to their lowest
in 5-1/2 months on Tuesday morning after weaker-than-expected
factory growth in the two largest economies hit risk sentiment,
adding pressure to battered emerging markets.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was
down 1.5 percent at 1,891.47 points as of 0205 GMT after
touching an intraday low of 1,886.34, its lowest since Aug. 28.
"One event risk after another continues to add pressure to
the market," said Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Bookook
Securities. "Tightened liquidity alongside weak economic
indicators will lead you nowhere but downwards."
U.S. factory growth in January slumped to its slowest in
eight months as new order growth plunged by the most in 33
years, two separate private surveys showed on Monday.
This was in line with sluggish growth in China, in which its
manufacturing sector slowed to a six-month low while its service
sector grew at its slowest pace in five years.
Aside from weak economic indicators from the United States
and China, analysts say that given time, the South Korean market
will differentiate itself from other emerging markets such as
Argentina with its firm fundamentals as it had done in
The KOSPI managed to post a 3.7 percent gain on the back of
flourishing foreign capital inflows despite Southeast Asian
markets such as Indonesia and India tumbling on worries over
tapering in stimulus by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Still, the KOSPI is moving along with other emerging markets
in the near term, with the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan down 1.6 percent as of 0205
Offshore investors sold a net 162.1 billion won ($149.46
million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, sustaining
their net-selling stance that has led to more than 1.7 trillion
won in capital outflows this year by Monday.
Decliners outnumbered advancers 689 to 120 while all 23
Korea Exchange sub-indexes were in the red, with the Securities
sector leading all sectoral declines. Mirae Asset
Securities Co Ltd and Samsung Securities Co Ltd
fell 4.1 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.
Hyundai Elevator Co Ltd was in the mix among
bottom performers, dipping 4.3 percent after its second-largest
stakeholder Schindler Group on Monday said it would not
participate in Hyundai Elevator's capital increase and give up
its preemptive right of the newly-issued shares.
Meanwhile, Kia Motors Corp bucked the trend by
gaining 1.1 percent on the back of bullish sales in the U.S.
market. The automaker's U.S. unit said on Monday that its
January sales increased nearly 2 percent from a year ago.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks fell 1.6
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ slipped 1.2 percent.
($1 = 1084.5500 Korean won)
(Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)