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* SK Telecom, KT down as high dividend stocks decline
* Korea Line up 15 pct on M&A hopes
By Joyce Lee
SEOUL, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Seoul shares edged down in thin trade on Thursday, as stocks went ex-dividend and with uncertainty over U.S. fiscal talks discouraging large bets.
But the decline was not as steep as the 1.2 percent fall estimated by the Korea Exchange on Wednesday, with the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropping 0.24 percent to 1,977.54 points by 0143 GMT.
"The main board is not dipping as far as it could have, taking the ex-dividend factor into account," said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities.
Shares on Thursday went ex-dividend, meaning that people who buy from now will not qualify for dividends for the current reporting period.
High-dividend stocks saw steep declines, with SK Telecom Co Ltd falling 4.1 percent and KT Corp dropping 5.1 percent, while Industrial Bank of Korea slipped 2.1 percent.
Lee added that focus remained on negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff in the United States, as President Barack Obama cut short a Christmas vacation to resume talks to avoid the automatic year-end tax hikes and spending cuts.
Among daily movers, Korea Line Corp rose by the daily limit of 15 percent after Korea Economic Daily and other media reported on Thursday that five bidders including SK Shipping Co Ltd and CJ Group had entered preliminary bids to acquire management control of the shipper through a paid-in capital increase.
Korea Line had a market capitalisation of 75.4 billion won ($70 million) as of Wednesday's close.
Local institutional and foreign investors had sold a net 90.3 billion Korean won ($84.13 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, weighing on the index.
Declining shares outnumbered climbers 429 to 319.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.2 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ fell 1 percent. ($1 = 1073.3500 Korean won) (Additional reporting by Seongwon Chang; Editing by Joseph Radford)