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Seoul shares close almost flat amid global woes

South Korean stocks closed almost flat Wednesday as investors sat on the sidelines due to concerns about advanced countries' economies ahead of a series of events, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 0.01 percent, or 0.26 points, to finish at 2,013.67. Trading volume was low at 267.2 million shares worth 3.87 trillion won ($3.65 billion) with losers outpacing gainers 431 to 356.

Analysts said investors took a wait-and-see approach ahead of a series of economic events from advanced countries slated for this week, which will act as indicators of how the global economy will perform down the road.

"Investors sat on the sidelines (Wednesday) ahead of the European Central Bank's monetary meeting scheduled for Thursday," said Han Chi-hwan, a researcher at KDB Daewoo Securities Co.

Lee Sang-jae, a researcher at Hyundai Securities Co., echoed the view, adding the United States is also anticipated to announce its latest jobs data later in the week, which also induced investors to take a breather.

Beijing's policy-setting meeting slated for Nov. 9-12, during which the world's No. 2 economy is expected to roll out reform measures to tackle inflation, also weighed down investors' sentiment, analysts added.

Foreigners sold more shares than they bought at a net 23.3 billion won, while retail investors scooped up a net 112.3 billion won. Institutions sold a net 90.5 billion won.

Tech shares closed bearish, with Samsung Electronics falling 2.29 percent to 1,451,000 won and its local rival LG Electronics losing 1.02 percent to 68,000 won. Samsung SDI shed 3.38 percent to 171,500 won.

Builders traded mixed, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction edging up 0.17 percent to 60,200 won, while Daelim Industrial closed unchanged at 97,700 won. Daewoo Engineering & Construction decreased 0.86 percent to 8,110 won.

Carmakers closed higher, with No. 1 Hyundai Motor rising 2.25 percent to 250,000 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors advancing 4.14 percent to 62,900 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis gained 0.66 percent to 306,000 won.

Shares of STX Group's affiliates gathered ground amid the rising hope over a business normalization of the conglomerate, with STX soaring to its daily permissible limit at 14.93 percent to 2,310 won and STX Pan Ocean surging 8.2 percent to 1,385 won.

Hyundai Heavy Industries, a local shipbuilder, gained 5.33 percent to reach 267,000 won as foreign investors scooped up its shares.

The local currency ended at 1,060.90 won against the greenback, up 0.30 won from the previous trading session, dealers said.

South Korea's stock market will open at 10:00 a.m. Thursday and close at 4:00 p.m., an hour later than usual, due to the national college entrance exam. (Yonhap News)

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