3 Min Read
* Samsung Elec down more than 2 pct on soured sentiment
* Autos weigh on weak earnings; Kia Motors hits 2-year low
* Some defensives buck trend; utilities, banking up
SEOUL, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Seoul shares fell on Friday morning, pulled lower by weak profits for automakers and a fall in Samsung Electronics after it announced cautious spending plans, weighing on other tech shares.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 1.2 percent at 1941.28 points as 0209 GMT, its lowest level in seven weeks.
"The main board has been hit hard by automakers' weak results, while investor sentiment toward tech shares hasn't recovered since Apple's earnings impact," said Kim Byung-yun, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities.
Shares in Samsung fell 2.3 percent after it reported a record quarterly profit of $8.3 billion on Friday, in line with earlier guidance. The tech giant said it will keep its 2013 annual investment plan unchanged at 2012 levels, turining cautious for the first time since the global financial crisis.
Auto stocks extended losses from the previous session, with Hyundai Motor down 3.4 percent and sibling Kia Motors falling 4.5 percent to over two-year lows near mid-session.
Kia reported on Friday its fourth-quarter net profit fell 6.7 percent to 737 billion won ($689.6 million), below consensus, while Hyundai on Thursday posted a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit of 1.89 trillion won ($1.77 billion).
Samsung, Hyundai and Kia together account for 22.4 percent of the KOSPI's market capitalisation.
Shares in exporters were also seen dented by the weakening yen, as the currency fell to a 2 1/2-year low against the dollar in early Asian trading on Friday.
South Korean exporters are grappling with the softening Japanese yen, which should give a price advantage to their Japanese rivals.
Investors favoured some defensive plays such as utilities and banking, with Korea Electric Power Corp up 1.1 percent while Woori Finance Holdings rose 1.6 percent.
Foreign investors sold a net 197 billion Korean won ($184.33 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, dragging down the index.
Declining shares outnumbered winners 487 to 268.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 1.1 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.5 percent lower. ($1 = 1068.7500 Korean won) (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Richard Pullin)