World Markets

South Korea Shares May Extend Thursday's Gains

( - The South Korea stock market on Thursday snapped the two-day slide in which it had fallen almost 35 points or 1.7 percent. The KOSPI remains just beneath the 2,030-point plateau and it may tick higher again on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic as the U.S. stock markets shrugged off heavy damage in the morning to rise again on bargain hunting - although weakness from crude oil prices may cap the upside.

The KOSPI finished barely higher on Thursday as gains were limited on ex-dividend day. Industrials and technology stocks were mostly higher, while the financial shares were mixed.

For the day, the index added 0.43 points or 0.02 percent to finish at 2,028.44 after trading between 2,021.39 and 2,035.57. Volume was 390 million shares worth 5.28 trillion won. There were 521 gainers and 331 decliners.

Among the actives, Shinhan Financial collected 0.51 percent, while KB Financial lost 0.94 percent, Woori Bank added 0.32 percent, Hana Financial dropped 0.97 percent, Samsung Electronics shed 0.26 percent, LG Electronics jumped 1.64 percent, LG Display surged 3.12 percent, SK hynix jumped 4.23 percent, SK Telecom soared 2.31 percent, KEPCO spiked 1.69 percent, POSCO perked 0.21 percent, Hyundai Motor climbed 1.28 percent and Kia Motors advanced 1.38 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks shook off heavy weakness on Thursday morning, skyrocketing off their worst levels of the day and into positive territory.

The Dow jumped 260.24 points or 1.14 percent to 23,138.69, while the NASDAQ added 25.14 points or 0.38 percent to 6,579.49 and the S&P 500 gained 21.13 points or 0.86 percent to 2,488.83.

The early weakness came as traders cashed in on Wednesday's surge, which saw the Dow record its biggest single-day gain ever. Lingering concerns about the global economic outlook may also have weighed - although the late-day rally came on further bargain hunting.

In economic news, the Conference Board noted a significant deterioration in consumer confidence in December. Also, the Labor Department saw a slight drop in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended December 22.

Crude oil futures declined sharply Thursday - one day after rebounding from 18-month lows. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for February ended down $1.61 or 3.5 percent at $44.61 a barrel.

Closer to home, South Korea will provide November numbers for industrial production and retail sales later this morning. In October, industrial production was up 1.0 percent on month and 10.7 percent on year, while retail sales were up 0.2 percent on month and 5.0 percent on year.

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