August 31, 2017 / 2:12 AM / a year ago

S.Korea stocks, won tentative before domestic, US data; N.Korea worries linger

    * KOSPI, won trade in tight ranges before data
    * N.Korea worries still weigh on sentiment -analyst
    * BOK holds rates at 1.25 pct as expected

    SEOUL, Aug 31 (Reuters) - South Korean shares and won       
were little changed early on Thursday, shaking off a rebound in
U.S. stocks, as investors were cautious of North Korean risks
and held their bets ahead of looming domestic and U.S. economic
    Traders shrugged off a widely-predicted decision by the Bank
of Korea to hold its benchmark rate at record-low 1.25 percent.
    The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI)         was
down 0.1 percent at 2,369.54 points as of 0138 GMT.
    The won            fetched 1,124.5 to the dollar, almost
unchanged from Wednesday's close of 1,124.2.
    "While waiting for several economic data slated for tomorrow
and the weekend, investors are also concerned that North Korea
risks could return at any time," said Kim Sung-hwan, a stock
analyst at Bookook Securities. 
    President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared "talking is not
the answer" to the tense standoff with North Korea over its
nuclear missile development, but his defense chief swiftly
asserted that diplomatic options remain.             
    On the data front, investors are watching out fo South
Korean trade on Friday as well as the U.S. jobs report later the
 same day.
    South Korea's industrial output for July rose at the fastest
rate in six months, driven by the production of new model cars
and Samsung Electronics Co.'s             new smartphone.
             Samsung shares were trading up 0.5 percent at
2,321,000 won.  
    Foreign investors were set to be net sellers, offloading
62.7 billion Korean won ($55.76 million) worth of KOSPI shares
near mid-session.
    Automobile manufacturer Kia Motor             slumped over 4
percent after South Korean court ruled against the company,
ordering the automaker to pay 420 billion won ($373.33
million)in unpaid wages.             
    Shares of SK Innovation             rose as much as 6.2
percent on expectations refining margins would rise in coming
    Decliners outnumbered advancers 420 to 324.   
    September futures on three-year treasury bonds        
gained 0.04 point to 109.31. 
                       0138 GMT    Prev close
 Dollar/won             1,124.5       1,124.2
 Yen/won             10.1793/47       10.1866
 *KTB futures            109.31        109.27
 KOSPI                 2,369.54      2,372.29
 * Front-month futures on three-year treasury bonds

 (Reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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