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Seoul shares stay mostly unchanged

Stocks on the local markets closed nearly flat Friday as investors appeared to hold mixed views on the global economy, analysts said.

The South Korean won traded higher against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index moved up 3.03 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,981.00. Trading volume was low at 241 million shares worth 3.4 trillion won ($3.18 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 479 to 303.

After opening lower, trading of Seoul shares was mixed during the trading session as investors were divided over the global economy amid a series of events at home and abroad.

Park Sung-hoon, an analyst from Woori Investment & Securities, said the KOSPI edged up as investors remained positive that the U.S. and Chinese economy would perform better down the road.

“Investors also expect that the South Korean government’s economic stimulus moves will take effect starting in the second quarter,” Park said.

Seoul has been making efforts to rejuvenate the economy, including an overhaul on the entire regulatory system over the next three years in a bid to remove excessive red tape and bolster corporate investment.

Analysts, however, said investor sentiment was dented by rising political uncertainties in Ukraine, which had an adverse impact on the U.S. relationship with Russia.

Foreigners bought a net 227.9 billion won while individuals offloaded a net 169.8 billion won. Institutions sold more shares than they bought at 63.1 billion won.

Mobile carriers closed mixed, with No. 1 SK Telecom falling 1.83 percent to 215,000 won while LG Uplus added 0.48 percent to end at 29,700 won. KT shed 0.67 percent to hit 29,700 won.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor advanced 0.81 percent to reach 248,000 won, while its auto parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis added 0.32 percent to 318,000 won. Kia Motors, in contrast, shed 0.34 percent.

Shipbuilders also closed mixed, with Hyundai Heavy Industries rising 0.48 percent to 210,500 won while Samsung Heavy Industries remained unchanged at 30,650 won. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine edged up 0.16 percent to 31,300 won.

Tech shares closed higher, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics adding 0.15 percent to 1,335,000 won and its smaller rival LG Electronics advancing 0.62 percent to 64,400 won. LG Display added 0.38 percent to 26,450 won.

The local currency ended at 1,069.30 won to the U.S. dollar, up 2.20 won from Thursday’s close.

By Bae Hyun-jung and news reports