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SKorea technology shares close lower after oil passes 98 dollars

SEOUL (Thomson Financial) - South Korean technology shares closed lower Wednesday as record oil prices prompted investors to grab profits after pushing the market higher earlier.

Crude oil surged past 98 dollars in Asian trade for the first time after the greenback sank to a new low and on expectations of further declines in US energy reserves.

Asiana Airlines fell 800 won or 7.3 percent to 10,100 won on concern over rising fuel costs while travel agency Hana Tour retreated 2,600 won or 3.6 percent to 69,100 won. The KOSDAQ index closed down 6.84 points or 0.9 percent at the day's low of 794.08. The index hit a high of 809.29.

Traded volume reached 505 million shares worth 2.2 trillion won.

Decliners beat gainers 623 to 320, with 77 issues unchanged.

Institutions were net sellers of shares worth 32.3 billion won while foreign investors were net buyers of 35.2 billion won worth. Retail investors were net sellers of 8.1 billion won worth. Large cap Internet stocks sagged on institutional selling. The nation's largest Internet company, NHN, dipped 4,500 won or 1.6 percent to 280,500 won while smaller rival Daum Communications slid 1,600 won or 2.0 percent to 80,100 won. Ship parts maker Sung Kwang Bend was off 2,400 won or 6.2 percent to 36,500 won, ending a two-session advance.

But Hanaro Telecom finished limit-up 1,220 won at 9,370 won on expectations that the sale of the company would wrap up soon. The company's largest shareholder, the AIG-Newbridge consortium, is widely expected to unload its nearly 40 percent stake in Hanaro this year. Hanaro's chief financial officer Janice Lee said Tuesday that the consortium is in talks with "a number of parties, including more than one domestic strategic investor." (1 US dollar = 906.10 won) saeromi.shin@thomson.com sss/ms COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Financial News Limited 2007. All rights reserved.

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