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Seoul: Stocks wobble after hitting record high; earnings, ECB eyed


[SEOUL] South Korean shares briefly hit a record high on Thursday before turning flat as investors grew cautious ahead of more corporate earnings reports.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.1 per cent at 2,431.17 points as of 0154 GMT. It rose to as high as 2,436.06 when trade began, its highest intraday level ever.

"The Kospi seems to be reacting more to remaining uncertainties regarding corporate earnings rather than offshore momentum," said Lee Kyung-Min, a stock analyst at Daishin Securities.

Markets were also waiting for the European Central Bank's policy meeting later in the day for any further hints that it may be preparing to taper its ultra-easy policy. ECB President Mario Draghi opened the door to policy tweaks last month, setting off a mini tantrum in financial markets.

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Any currency market reaction to the ECB's comments may impact offshore investors' demand for local equities, Mr Lee said.

Offshore investors were expected to be sellers and offloaded a net 28.3 billion won (S$34.45 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Steelmaker Posco rose nearly 2 per cent on high hopes of better earnings in the second half. The company's earnings guidance is due to be released later on the day.

LG Chemical gained 2.3 per cent as the company said second-quarter earnings will be better-than-expected.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 409 to 359.

The South Korean won edged down as the US dollar edged higher ahead of the ECB policy meeting.

The won stood at 1,124.1 against the US dollar, down 0.3 per cent compared to Wednesday's close of 1,120.6.

September futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.01 point to 109.20.