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Seoul: Stocks steady as investors sidelined ahead of ECB verdict; won down


[SEOUL] South Korean shares were steady on Friday morning as an overnight US holiday thinned trading, while many investors put up shutters ahead of the weekend as they awaited next week's European Central Bank policy review.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was marginally up 0.1 per cent at 2,031.80 points as of 0235 GMT. Losers outnumbered gainers by 11-to-10.

The South Korean won eased 0.3 per cent at 1,150.4 per dollar, compared with previous close of 1,147.3.

US markets were closed Thursday and will be shut most of Friday afternoon.

"We are seeing some corrections after a sharp rise yesterday but most investors are now settling into a wait-and-see mode ahead of ECB policy meeting," said Kang Hyun-gie, a stock analyst at Dongbu Securities.

The ECB meets next Thursday and most in the market expect it to expand its asset purchase programme and lower its deposit rate.

Refiners SK Innovation Co Ltd and S-Oil Corp gained 1.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent, helped by upbeat refinery margins despite low crude oil prices.

Retailer stocks advanced on the main board, with Hyundai Department Store and Lotte Shopping rising 3.6 per cent and 2.4 per cent, respectively.

Game stocks rebounded in anticipation of new games in the first half of next year. Shares of NC Soft Corp rose as much as 3.3 per cent to a near four-month high of 226,000 won.

Foreigners offloaded a net 1.2 billion Korean won (S$1.47 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, dragging on the index.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.04 points at 109.19.