SEOUL - Seoul shares ticked lower on Monday morning, extending losses to an 8-week low due to a weakening yen and concerns about fourth-quarter earnings.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 0.3 per cent to 1,940.33 points as of 0211 GMT, with foreign investors selling a net 2.33 billion won ($2.66 million) worth of shares near mid-session.
"Investors have begun preempting concerns about exporters'outlooks since automakers announced weak earnings last week, while large-caps continue to be pressured by foreign selloffs,"said Kim Hyung-ryol, an analyst at Kyobo Securities.
South Korean shares have fallen 4.2 per cent year-to-date as of last Friday, underperforming a 2 per cent gain by Asian peers' as the weakening yen soured the outlook for local exporters and foreign investors sold down their holdings.
A decision by US fund manager Vanguard to switch from the MSCI index to the FTSE to track markets for its US$67 billion (S$83 billion) emerging market fund is expected to wipe about 9 trillion won from Seoul stocks by July.
Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics extended losses to fall 2.5 per cent near mid-session, touching its lowest price since Nov. 21.
"Concerns about South Korean tech firms' fundamentals has increased, with high-end smartphone device shipments expected to slow down this year," said Park Young-joo, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities.
Automakers lost ground for a third session, with Hyundai Motor down 0.5 per cent while sibling Kia Motors slid 3.2 per cent in the aftermath of weaker-than-expected earnings last week.
Among daily movers, Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) rose 5.3 per cent after parent company Hana Financial Group Inc announced on Monday it will seek 100 per cent of Korea Exchange Bank through a share swap.
The planned swap of 5.28 KEB shares for 1 Hana Financial share will be completed in early April, with KEB to be delisted by April 26.
Declining shares outnumbered winners 406 to 347. The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.5 per cent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.1 per cent lower.