February 26, 2014 / 2:56 AM / 3 years ago

Seoul shares flat, global growth and China worries linger

* Investors take profit on global growth concerns

* Foreign inflows continue, provide some support

SEOUL, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Seoul shares were little changed in early trade on Wednesday, tracking tepid leads from the U.S. and other Asian markets as lingering concerns about the strength of the global economy led to some profit taking on gains seen a day earlier.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.1 percent at 1,967.75 points as of 0250 GMT.

"Although the market is putting behind the emerging market jitters, a sustainable upward momentum is limited amid concerns about growth slowdown in the G2," said Shinhan Investment Corp analyst Han Beom-ho, referring to the United States and China.

"Liquidity along with many other issues surrounding the Chinese economy is factoring as an immediate obstacle for the index that is struggling to find new risk variables."

Investors remain nervous about the macroeconomic conditions in China, in particular, as the world's second-largest economy is South Korea's biggest exports market and a crucial profits-generator for major local firms.

The yuan's sharp decline on Tuesday led to more uncertainties about China's future policy direction amid growing concerns about tighter credit conditions. Though analysts still say the risk of a hard landing for the country is small, a rapid slowdown in China's growth would have major consequences for South Korea and other regional economies.

Shares of steelmakers Hyundai Steel Co. and Posco were down 4.1 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, as renewed worries about the strength of the global economy raised doubts about their earnings prospects.

Shares of Internet services provider Naver Corp were up 2.6 percent amid lingering speculation about potential investment in its Japan-based subsidiary, Line Corp. Line on Tuesday denied a media report that it was in talks to sell a stake to SoftBank Corp.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 435 to 336.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.1 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ was up 0.02 points. (Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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