[SEOUL] South Korean shares slid on Tuesday morning after Chinese economic data suggested more weakness in markets and worries about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 0.5 per cent to 1,869.58 points as of 0233 GMT. Declining issues outnumbered advancers by 33-to-10.
China's economic growth eased to 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, matching expectations but still the slowest since the global financial crisis, data showed on Tuesday.
"There isn't a clear catalyst today that could push KOSPI higher, considering a closed market in the United States and a retreat in European shares overnight," Kim Young Jun, a stock analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities. U.S. markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday.
Mr Kim said China economic data could lead to more selling in the KOSPI in afternoon trade.
Tech shares overperformed the broader market, with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd gaining 2 per cent and chipmaker SK Hynix Inc rising 3.6 per cent Airline stocks fell on a recent decline in the Korean won and due to an overhang in supply, with companies such as Jeju Air to issue more shares. Jeju Air fell 8.4 per cent and Korean Air Co Ltd was down 2.8 per cent.
Foreign investors sold a net 162.6 billion won ($million) worth of KOSPI shares near midday, with the market set for its ninth straight day of selling.
The South Korean won was slightly down near mid-session, having taken its cue recently from weakness in regional currencies such as the yuan.
"China's implementation of a reserve requirement ratio (RRR) on the offshore yuan market would help regulate exchange speculation which has augmented market volatility," said Park Yu Na, a foreign exchange analyst at Dongbu Securities.
The local currency was quoted at 1,212.3 on the dollar, down 0.1 per cent from Monday's onshore close of 1,210.9.