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Seoul: Shares down but pare losses after Chinese data; won firmer


[Seoul] South Korean shares fell on Tuesday but pared their losses a little after data on China's economic growth came in slightly better than expected.

China's economy grew 7.3 per cent in the third quarter from a year before, a shade higher than forecast but still the weakest expansion in nearly six years.

"Improved export conditions allowed factory output to handily beat forecasts, although fixed investments and retail sales painted a cloudier picture," said An Ki-tae, an economist at Woori Investment & Securities in a note to clients.

"These numbers are not great, but they're not weak enough to warrant a large-scale stimulus program either," he added.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.58 per cent at 1,918.92 as of 0235 GMT, after falling as much as 1 per cent early in the session.

Growth-linked shares, sensitive to fluctuations in Chinese demand, were the top decliners in the session.

Steelmaker POSCO fell 1.4 per cent while Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering tumbled 3.1 per cent.

Shares in LG Chem slumped 9.7 per cent after third-quarter earnings guidance, released via a regulatory filing before the market opened, indicated a 30.8 percent drop in profit from a year earlier.

LG Display, the world's largest LCD maker and a major supplier of Apple Inc, gained 3.1 per cent after the Silicon Valley giant posted better-than-expected revenue growth in the July-September period.

Recession-proof defensive sectors such as telecoms bucked the wider trend. SK Telecom, South Korea's largest mobile services provider, climbed 2.5 per cent while KT Corp rose 1.5 per cent.

The South Korean won firmed, reflecting losses in the dollar as many investors pushed out expectations of an early rate hike by the US Federal Reserve ahead of Wednesday's inflation data, which is expected to remain sluggish.

The won was quoted at 1,054.2 to the dollar as of 0235 GMT, compared to Monday's close of 1,059.6, extending its gains a little after the economic data from China, South Korea's largest export destination. REUTERS