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Seoul: Stocks ease as oil rally falters; won firmer

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares erased early gains and inched lower on Tuesday, with some investors taking profits ahead of a G20 meeting later this week amid concerns about global growth.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.3 per cent at 1,911.11 points as of 0201 GMT. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by 16 to 10.

A dip in oil prices after their recent strong gains also added to market jitters.

"What's causing us to trade isn't anything fundamental but rather technical. Volume has been lighter which is indicative of more short covering than actual buying," said Cho Byung-hyun, a stock analyst at Yuanta Securities "Even if policymakers fail to coordinate in G20 meeting, it could still spur moves to shore up global growth," Mr Cho added.

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors will meet on Feb. 26-27, with sagging global growth, divergent monetary policies and currency devaluations set to dominate the agenda.

Healthcare stocks underperformed the broad market, with Hanmi Pharm losing 2.7 per cent.

Energy counters gained on hopes of recovery in oil and commodities despite the latest dip in oil prices, with refinery SK Innovation Co Ltd rising 3.5 per cent.

Shares in Doosan Infracore Co Ltd gained 4.5 per cent after the company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that Doosan Bobcat Inc would seek an initial public offering in the South Korean market. Doosan Infracore holds a 75.5 per cent stake in Doosan Bobcat.

Foreign investors sold a net 12.7 billion Korean won (S$14.5 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.1 per cent, while the junior KOSDAQ was 1 per cent higher.

The South Korean won stood firmer, but gains were limited after the Chinese yuan eased early on Tuesday.

The local currency was quoted at 1,231.5 against the dollar, up 0.2 per cent from Monday's onshore close of 1,234.4.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.05 points at 110.26.


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