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Seoul shares flat as some investors take profits on China worries
March 11, 2014 / 3:20 AM / 3 years ago

Seoul shares flat as some investors take profits on China worries

* Benchmark index briefly touches 2-week low

* Kospi may trade within 1,920-2,000 range in March -analyst

* Foreigners are net sellers for second straight session

By Se Young Lee

SEOUL, March 11 (Reuters) - Seoul shares were flat near midday on Tuesday as some investors hunted for bargains in recent decliners like Kia Motors but concerns about a slowdown in China's economy weighed on market confidence.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.01 percent at 1,954.55 points as of 0245 GMT. It had earlier touched an intraday low of 1,951.44, the weakest since Feb. 24.

Analysts pointed to China's weaker-than-expected February exports data as the latest reason for worry about the world's second-largest economy. China is South Korea's biggest exports market.

"The fact that China's exports data was so much weaker than anticipated has triggered profit-taking on the recent gains," said SK Securities analyst Ko Seung-hee, adding that the KOSPI was likely to trade between 1,920 and 2,000 for the month given continuing concerns about emerging economies.

Ko said, however, that investors appeared to have priced in the risk of soft first-quarter earnings for South Korean firms, limiting the extent of the declines for now.

Foreign investors were net sellers in early trade on Tuesday, on track for a second straight day of selling.

Shares of Dongbu Steel Co and Hyundai Steel Co fell 1.7 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, on worries that weaker growth in China would reduce steel demand from the world's second-largest economy.

But Kia Motors Corp and SK Hynix Inc both gained 0.7 percent on bargain hunting following their declines in recent sessions.

Advancing shares outnumbered decliners 421 to 375.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.1 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.6 percent higher. (Additional reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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