* Samsung Elec down more than 2 pct; Hyundai Motor down 1.4 pct
* Life insurers bullish on demand for immediate annuities
SEOUL, Jan 21 (Reuters) - 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 KOSPI shares.
“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)