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Seoul shares hit 5-wk low as Chinese data worries investors
March 14, 2014 / 2:06 AM / 3 years ago

Seoul shares hit 5-wk low as Chinese data worries investors

* Foreign outflows continue for fifth straight day

* Weak China readings stoke fears about a hard landing

* Ukraine tensions also undercut risk appetite

By Se Young Lee

SEOUL, March 14 (Reuters) - Seoul shares fell to a five-week low on Friday as investor sentiment was undermined by data showing China's economy may be slowing more than expected and the persistent tension in the Ukraine.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.5 percent at 1,924.00 points at 0243 GMT. During trade it fell to a low of 1,913.64, its weakest level since Feb. 7.

The market is down more than 2.5 percent so far this week.

Data on Thursday from China, South Korea's biggest export market, showed the lowest growth rates in investment, retail sales and factory output in years.

"Fears about whether the weakening indicators will lead to a hard landing for China's economy as well as worries about corporate default in the country are dominating the market at present," said Tong Yang Securities analyst Cho Byung-hyun.

Risk appetite was also reduced after Russia launched new military exercises near its border with Ukraine and showed no sign of backing down on a plan to annex Crimea.

Foreigners were net sellers of stocks in the morning trade, to be on track for a fifth consecutive session of outflows.

Shares of Dongbu Steel Co. and Hyundai Steel Co. were down 2.5 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, hurt by worries about weaker demand from China.

Blue-chip automakers Kia Motors Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. were 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent lower, respectively.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 503 to 261.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was down 0.6 percent, and the junior KOSDAQ was 0.2 percent lower. (Additional reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by John Mair)

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