* Samsung Elec down more than 2 pct; Hyundai Motor down 1.4
* Life insurers bullish on demand for immediate annuities
SEOUL Jan 21 South Korean shares fell on Monday
morning as the outlook for exporters was further soured by
expectations that this week's Bank of Japan meeting will lead to
continued weakness in the yen.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell
0.6 percent to 1,975.12 points as of 0159 GMT, as foreign
investors sold a net 73.3 billion won ($69.33 million) worth of
"Concern over the weakening yen appears to be playing a
large part as the main board continues to underperform compared
to Asian peers due to foreign selling," said Kim Joong-won, an
analyst at NH Investment & Securities.
The yen touched a new low ahead of the outcome of the Bank
of Japan policy meeting ending on Tuesday, amid expectations for
bold monetary easing measures. The dollar hit a fresh 2-1/2-year
high of 90.25 yen early on Monday.
South Korean exporters, which lead the index in terms of
market capitalisation, are grappling with the firming South
Korean won and softening Japanese yen, which should give a price
advantage to their Japanese rivals.
Blue-chips were mostly down. Tech and auto shares
lost ground, with market heavyweight Samsung
Electronics falling 2.1 percent while Hyundai Motor
Co slid 1.4 percent near mid-session.
Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor together accounted for
21 percent of the KOSPI's market capitalisation as of Friday.
But investors were bullish on life insurers, which were led
by the country's largest insurer Samsung Life Insurance Co Ltd
which rose 1.9 percent.
"Recent tax reform has increased demand for immediate
payment annuities, and due to its brand power and comparatively
solid capital adequacy ratio, Samsung Life has been benefiting
from a marked increase in new policies," said Han Seung-hee, an
analyst at Woori Investment & Securities.
Among daily movers, shares in Tongyang Inc rose
by the daily limit of 15 percent after local media reported
affiliate Tongyang Power Inc was likely to be chosen to operate
a 2 million kilowatt thermal power plant in Samcheok, Gangwon
province on the east coast of the Korean peninsula.
Declining shares outnumbered winners 374 to 356. The KOSPI
200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.8 percent,
while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.3 percent higher.
($1 = 1057.2500 Korean won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill)