* New BOJ governor in focus as market eyes direction of yen
* Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors rebound
* Technology shares, shipbuilders gain
SEOUL, Feb 19 South Korean stocks crept up after
trading narrowly on Tuesday morning, led by automakers, with
foreign investors stepping up buying.
The market is focusing on the appointment of Japan's next
central bank governor to gauge direction on the yen,
which has been declining in recent months and hurting the
prospects of South Korean firms.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ticked
0.3 percent higher to 1,987.52 points as of 0233 GMT.
"We expect the next BOJ governor to have an aggressive
monetary policy after the G20 failed to put a brake on the yen's
fall," said Jeon Jong-kyu, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
"The weak yen and poor earnings have been already priced in
the KOSPI, which has lagged behind its overseas peers this
year," he said.
Japan will decide candidates for Bank of Japan's new
governor and deputy governors after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
returns from his Feb. 21-24 U.S. trip.
A weaker yen raises the price competitiveness of Japanese
exporters and poses a disadvantage to South Korean rivals in
South Korean automakers rebounded from losses the previous
session, with Hyundai Motor up 1 percent and Kia
Motors gaining 1.9 percent.
Technology stocks also gained ground, with heavyweight
Samsung Electronics inching up 0.1 percent and LG
Electronics gaining 1.2 percent.
Shipbuilders extended gains on recovery hopes, with Daewoo
Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering firming 3
percent and Hyundai Heavy Industries gaining 1.4
"There is a perception that the sector's earnings have
bottomed out in the fourth quarter... But the market will not
improve significantly from last year, limiting upside
potential," said Lee Ji-hoon, an analyst at SK Securities.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)