* KOSPI trapped in a narrow range in lacklustre trading
* Mobile carriers SK Telecom, KT Corp, LG Uplus rally
* Institutions position as net buyers to underpin the index
SEOUL, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Seoul shares moved narrowly on Wednesday as investors looked ahead to the all-important U.S. Federal Reserve meeting next week, but a clutch of stocks like Kia Motors got a lift from bargain hunting after a recent string of declines.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was flat at 1,993.60 points by 0213 GMT. It hit an intraday high of 2,000.15 earlier, briefly recovering its 60-day moving average - a key technical indicator - of 1,998.52.
“Low valuations of local stocks opened up some room for gains, but the market is still placed at fluctuating intervals in the absence of market-moving risk variables,” said Cho Byung-hyun, an analyst at Tong Yang Securities.
Analysts say much clarification of the market’s direction would come after the Fed meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, as investors wait to see when the U.S. central bank will begin reducing its stimulus.
Automaker Kia Motors Corp rose 1.3 percent on bargain hunting, after losing 7.5 percent in the month of December through Tuesday. Its affiliate Hyundai Motor Co was up 0.2 percent after rising more than 1 percent earlier in the session.
Mobile carriers outperformed on demand for defensive stocks. SK Telecom Co Ltd rose 1.3 percent, LG Uplus Corp jumped 4.4 percent and KT Corp added 2.3 percent.
LG Electronics Inc and LG Display Co Ltd gained 1.9 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
LG International Corp and GS Holdings rose 1.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively, after a consortium between the two companies was chosen as the preferred bidder to buy a controlling stake in STX Energy Co Ltd .
Local institutional investors purchased a net 27.8 billion won ($26 million) of local shares by mid-session while foreign investors offloaded a net 4.4 billion won worth.
Declining shares outnumbered advancing issues 401 to 336.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was flat. The junior KOSDAQ edged up 0.3 percent following a decline to its lowest level since June 26. ($1 = 1052.2000 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Chris Gallagher)