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Korean shares lose steam in late morning trade

South Korean stocks lost steam in late Tuesday trading as institutions turned net sellers after scooping up shares amid eased uncertainties. The won rose against the US dollar. 

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index dropped 5.63 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,140.13 as of 11:20 a.m.

Institutional investors offloaded 25.01 billion won worth of stocks on profit-taking. Foreigners continued to sell stocks valued at 30.75 billion won. 

Investor sentiment has improved after the United States didn't designate South Korea as a currency manipulator, allowing the main index to end in positive territory in the previous session.

Blue chip stocks led losses. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 0.43 percent, top carmaker Hyundai Motor declined 1.74 percent and No. 1 cosmetics company AmorePacifc was down 0.18 percent.

Among gainers, utility firm Korea Electric Power Corp. rose 1.22 percent, industry leader SK Telecom gained 0.62 percent and dominant tobacco company KT&G advanced 0.10 percent. 

The local currency was trading at 1,136.20 won against the US dollar, up 1.50 won from the previous session's close. (Yonhap)