[SEOUL] South Korean shares fell on Monday as they went ex-dividend, although broader market activity was subdued in the midst of the holiday season.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.4 per cent at 1,940.41 points as of 0145 GMT.
Korea Exchange (KRX), the main bourse operator, projected the ex-dividend drop in share prices at 1.08 per cent of the overall KOSPI index.
Such a fall in the index would imply that the market is practically flat, calculated by subtracting losses in dividend rights from total market capitalization.
Fourteen of the 17 industry sub-indices tracked by the KRX were in negative territory, while losing shares outnumbered winners by a ratio of nearly 3 to 2.
Samsung SDS bucked the trend and soared 4.2 per cent after the KRX said the company would be added to the benchmark KOSPI 200 index next March.
Airline shares were the other notable gainers as a prolonged fall in oil prices raised further expectations of lower jet fuel costs. Korean Air, South Korea's flag carrier, climbed 2.5 per cent.
The KOSPI 200 benchmark fell 0.84 per cent to weigh on the index while the junior, tech-heavy KOSDAQ gained 0.78 per cent.
The South Korean won was nearly flat after trading across a tight range all morning, as the dollar's firm gains in the broader market were offset by exporters' demand for settlements.
"Market participants are closing their books ahead of the year-end and not taking active positions in the market," said Hong Seok-chan, an FX strategist at Daishin Economic Research Institute.
The won was quoted at 1,099.0 to the dollar as of 0145 GMT, after closing on Friday at 1,098.7.
March futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 1 basis point to trade at 108.03.