[SEOUL], Jan 26 (Reuters) - South Korean shares fell sharply on Tuesday morning, hit by a slide in energy and tech stocks as investors braced for weaker fourth-quarter earnings and a challenging outlook.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 1.4 per cent at 1,867.43 points as of 0148 GMT. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by 3 to 1.
"Investors' confidence was hit as underperforming energy and tech shares weighed on the main board," said Bae Sung-young, a stock analyst at Hyundai Securities.
Bae said that slowing growth in China, South Korea's largest trading partner, and sliding crude oil raised concerns about major exporters' earnings prospects. A handful of fourth quarter results released so far showed pressure on sales and margins.
Investors are also bracing for earnings from Hyundai Motor Co and LG Electronics Inc later in the day On Tuesday, data showed South Korea's economic growth more than halved to 0.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2015 as a decline in construction investment hobbled the ongoing recovery.
Shares in chipmaker SK Hynix Co Ltd rose 1.8 per cent as earnings met market expectations. The company said earlier on Tuesday its fourth-quarter operating profit dropped 41 per cent from a year earlier on weaker global chip demand.
Shares in Samsung SDI Co Ltd, battery-making arm of Samsung Group, plunged 11.7 per cent after announcing a fourth-quarter operating loss of 80.8 billion won (S$96.2 million) , compared to an operating profit of 37.2 billion won a year earlier.
Foreign investors were poised to be net sellers for a 14th session, offloading a net 143.7 billion won ($119.59 million) worth of shares by midday.
The South Korean won were lower, tracking broad declines in equities and regional currencies.
The local currency was quoted at 1,201.9 to the dollar, down 0.6 per cent compared with Monday's onshore close of 1,194.2.