* LG Display takes breather after 3 months of gains
* STX Pan Ocean jumps on stake sale hopes
* Handok Pharmaceuticals up on TEVA joint venture
By Somang Yang
SEOUL, Dec 14 Seoul shares softened early on
Friday as the index took a breather after Thursday's solid gains
and Wall Street turned lower on renewed concerns over stagnant
U.S. budget talks.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked
0.6 percent lower to 1,991.25 points as of 0225 GMT.
"Investors are realising that the U.S. fiscal talks are
difficult to resolve, but the index is only paring the big gains
it made in the last few minutes of Thursday's trades on program
buying," said Han Bum-ho, an analyst at Shinhan Securities.
The index made most of its gains in the last minute of trade
on Thursday as the expiry of December's options and futures set
off a flurry of computerised buying.
Shipbuilders underperformed, with the sub-index
slumping 1.7 percent.
Flat-screen maker LG Display fell 3.3 percent,
extending Wednesday's 4.9 percent loss. However, its shares had
been on an upswing before that, gaining 32 percent in value
between September and December.
"There is no change in fundamentals and the company's
profits are set to improve. However, shares have risen a lot
recently, with some investors thinking that it will benefit from
Sharp's misfortunes," said Choi Do-yeon at LIG Investments &
Securities, referring to Japan's troubled Sharp Corp.
STX Pan Ocean bucked the trend, jumping 7.9
percent after local media reported that its cash-strapped parent
company STX Corp was in talks with various companies
to sell its controlling stake.
Among small caps, Handok Pharmaceuticals rose
3.8 percent on news that it would form a joint venture with
Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
Foreign investors were net sellers after eleven sessions of
buying, which weighed on the index.
Declining shares outnumbered winners 470 to 281.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.6
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ was edging up 0.2
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)