* Weak economic readings cloud global growth prospects
* Ukraine worries weigh on riskier assets
* Foreigners net sellers of local stocks in early trade
By Se Young Lee
SEOUL, March 25 Seoul shares edged lower in
early trade Tuesday as signs of slower manufacturing activity in
major economies as well as fresh worries over Ukraine led to
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was
down 0.1 percent at 1,943.92 points as of 0131 GMT.
The flash Markit/HSBC China Purchasing Managers' Index fell
to an eight-month low of 48.1 in March, while the Markit
preliminary U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for
March also eased from February.
Surveys indicating slower growth in Germany further added to
worries about the global economic growth prospects, undercutting
"The weak PMI readings overnight is affecting the market's
momentum to some degree, and there appears to be some
profit-taking as well," said Hana Daetoo analyst Chang Hee-jong.
"There are still risks weighing on market sentiment, but at
the same time the economy is gradually improving so it's not
clear whether we're headed for any kind of a correction at this
point," he added.
Continued tensions between Ukraine and Russia also rattled
investors, with diplomats raising concerns about a NATO-reported
buildup of Russian troops at Ukraine's border. Investors are
worried about potential economic fallout from the standoff as
the risk of more sanctions against Moscow looms.
Foreigners were net sellers of local stocks in early morning
trade, reflecting caution. Decliners outnumbered gainers 390 to
Shares of large caps Samsung Electronics Co. and
SK Hynix Inc. were down 1.2 percent and 0.8 percent,
respectively, on profit-taking pressures as market sentiment
Shares of LG Chem Ltd. and Hyundai Steel Co.
were up 2.4 percent and 1.3 percent, however, on
speculation that China, a key market for South Korea's steel and
chemical exporters, may introduce fresh stimulus measures to
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.1
percent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.4 percent
(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Eric Meijer)