* Benchmark index trading in narrow band in absence of firm
* Foreigners remain net buyers, but inflows modest
By Se Young Lee
SEOUL, March 6 Seoul shares were little changed
on Thursday morning, as investors opted to tread cautiously amid
the fluid situation in Ukraine and ahead of the European
Central Bank's policy decision later in the global day.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was
down 0.02 percent at 1,970.86 points as of 0213 GMT.
While the threat of war appears to have subsided, high-level
talks to resolve the Ukraine crisis has made little apparent
headway, keeping markets on the edge.
Investors were also looking ahead to the ECB's policy review
later in the day, with expectations growing for additional
easing measures to support the still-fragile euro zone economy.
"The local market's slowing down a bit as the focus shifts
back to leads from the U.S. and China markets with the Ukraine
worries easing," said IM Investment analyst Kang Hyun-gee.
"The U.S. market has hit a peak and will need stronger
fundamentals to rise further, but the ISM survey readings and
the ADP private employment data overnight were soft and can't
provide that additional upwards momentum," Kang added.
Foreigners were net buyers of local stocks in early trade,
though inflows were modest.
Shares of steelmakers Dongbu Steel Co. and Posco
were up 2.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively,
as comments from China's leaders at this week's annual
parliament meeting suggested Beijing's reform agenda will help
keep the world's second-largest economy on an even keel.
On the losing ledger, shares of blue chips SK Hynix Inc.
fell 1.1 percent and Samsung Electronics Co.
declined 0.8 percent on profit-taking pressure after
Advancers outnumbered gainers 440 to 339.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.1
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.3 percent
(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)