Korea Hot Stocks-Shipbuilders, KT rise; banks retreat
Reuters - Friday, January 2
SEOUL, Jan 2 - Stocks on the move on Friday include:
As of 0214 GMT, the main KOSPI <.KS11> was up 0.06 percent at 1,125.15 points.
The index opened up 0.75 percent at 1,132.87 points.
**MAJOR SHIPBUILDERS JUMP ON RESTRUCTURING HOPES**
Shares in shipbuilders jumped on Friday on expectations that they would benefit from restructuring as the industry deals with a downturn.
"Amid the ongoing difficulties and restructuring efforts, major South Korean shipbuilders are expected to weather the current rough times pretty well and come out stronger. They are already seen successfully differentiating themselves from Chinese competitors and smaller domestic rivals," said Cho In-karp, a senior analyst at Goodmorning Shinhan Securities.
"Also falling steel prices are expected to improve their profitability," Cho added.
Daewoo Shipbuilding <042660.KS>, the world's third-largest shipbuilder, was up 12.05 percent and Samsung Heavy <010140.KS> gained 10.18 percent as of 0214 GMT.
**KT CORP JUMPS ON EXPECTATION FOR DEMAND, MERGER**
KT Corp <030200.KS>, South Korea's top fixed-line and broadband operator, jumped 4.4 percent to 39,150 won on expectations for continued demand from investors seeking defensive, high-dividend shares.
A local newspaper report that KT was considering merging with its mobile service unit KTF Co Ltd <032390.KS> by end-June also renewed interest in the stock, analysts said.
KT denied the report by Korea Economic Daily, saying nothing had been decided on the timing and method for the merger, widely expected for years.
"Telecom stocks will stay under the spotlight in 2009," said Lee Shi-hoon, an analyst at Hyundai Securities. "A merger with KTF would make KT shares more attractive in terms of synergy and growth potential."
**BANKS DOWN ON CURRENCY OPTIONS WORRIES**
Banks fell across the board on Friday as the local won currency weakened rapidly in morning trade, heightening worries about lenders' kick-in kick-out currency option, or KIKO, deals with local companies.
Earlier this week a South Korean court accepted an injunction freeing some companies from a certain portion of their KIKO deals with a local lender.
"The court's decision and the weakening won heightens the possibility that banks may face more court cases challenging the currency deals, potentially exposing them to currency-related losses," said Ku Yong-uk, an analyst at Daewoo Securities.
The South Korean won <KRW=> fell nearly 5 percent against the dollar on Friday.
"Also the growing likelihood of restructuring by construction firms and shipbuilders has raised uncertainties. More losses related to their restructuring activities may be reflected in the near future," Ku added.
Shares in KB Financial Group <105560.KS>, the holding firm of Kookmin Bank, the country's biggest commercial lender, were down 4.15 percent as of 0135 GMT.
Hana Financial Group <086790.KS> sank 6.4 percent.
0135 GMT (Reporting by Park Jung-youn and Rhee So-eui; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)
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