(Updates to midday)
* KOSPI gains with regional markets, aided by Yellen remarks
* Memory chipmakers rise, supporting main index
* Securities firms down as covered-short selling ban lifted
SEOUL, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Seoul shares moved off their lowest level in more than two-months on Thursday as worries about a U.S. Federal Reserve stimulus cutback eased, but options-selling on a day they expired capped gains.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.4 percent at 1,972.44 points at 0255 GMT, following Wednesday’s sharpest daily fall since July 3.
Remarks by Fed vice-chair Janet Yellen “supported the market’s rebound, but with trading volume subdued, local option expiries that are under selling pressure are limiting gains,” said Lim Soo-gyun, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
Lim added that a lack of foreign inflows is hindering the bourse’s rebound.
In the morning, offshore investors offloaded 27.7 billion Korean won ($25.8 million) of local shares. They were on track for a ninth consecutive session of net selling.
In remarks before a Senate confirmation hearing on her nomination to be Fed chief, Yellen supported the current ultra-easy monetary policy, which helped investor sentiment.
On Thursday, South Korea’s central bank held interest rates steady for a sixth consecutive month, as expected, while monitoring a steady economic recovery as analysts largely expect it to keep policy steady until late next year.
Memory chipmakers underpinned the market’s gains, with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc up 1.1 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd, world’s largest shipbuilder, rose 2.3 percent and Naver Corp advanced 3.8 percent.
Shares of securities firms dragged, with sub-index falling 3.6 percent. Woori Investment & Securities Co Ltd dropped 5.5 percent.
South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) said investors can start covered short-selling activities for financial companies’ stocks, starting Thursday.
“FSC’s decision to lift a ban on covered short-selling activities for financial companies has pulled down the sector as a whole,” said Hyundai Securities analyst Bae Sung-young. ($1 = 1072.6000 Korean won) (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Richard Borsuk)