* KOSPI fails to hold above 2,050 for fifth straight session
* Financials down as profits booked after recent rally
* Samsung Elec touches another all-time intraday high
By Joonhee Yu
SEOUL, March 20 (Reuters) - Seoul shares surrendered early gains to edge lower on Tuesday, weighed down by technical resistance and failing to hold above the key 2,050 chart level for a fifth straight session.
"Momentum is clearly stalling right now and in need of distinct signals, whether it be U.S. housing data pointing to a stable recovery or stronger indications of policy easing in China," said Kim Se-joong, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.33 percent at 2,040.34 points as of 0145 GMT.
Profit-taking was focused on high-beta stocks such as financials, which enjoyed particularly hefty gains in the market's recent winning run.
Hana Financial Group fell 1.94 percent while Woori Finance Holdings was down 1.83 percent after a five-day winning streak backed by renewed privatisation hopes.
Defensive issues sank across the board, with consumer staples bearing the brunt. Food conglomerate Orion Corp fell 3.33 percent while tobacco maker KT&G shed 1.87 percent.
Investors continued to stock up on blue-chips on positive earnings expectations, lifting shares in Samsung Electronics 1.34 percent to yet another all-time intraday high of 1,277,000 won ($1,137.943).
Screen-maker LG Display, a major supplier of Apple Inc, saw its shares climb 2.23 percent while Hyundai Motor gained 1.12 percent.
GS Construction outperformed sector peers, up 1.4 percent and poised for a three-session rally on hopes for new orders from the Middle East.
SK Innovation, the parent of South Korea's biggest refiner, gained 2.36 percent while GS Holdings , parent of the country's third largest, rose 1.89 percent. ($1 = 1122.200 Korean Won) (Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)