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South Korea Stock Market Poised To Halt Slide

4/12/2012 7:34 PM ET

The South Korea stock market has closed lower now in three straight sessions, shedding more than 40 points or 2 percent along the way. The KOSPI settled just above the 1,985-point plateau, and now investors are looking at a firm recovery when the market kicks off trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat in anticipation of solid GDP data from China this morning. Also, the European Central Bank said that inflation in Eurozone is subject to upside risks and it is ready with all the tools necessary to address them "in a firm and timely manner." In corporate news, Internet giant Google Inc. said that its first quarter profit rose 61 percent from last year. The European and U.S. markets finished firmly higher, and the Asian bourses are expected to follow suit.

The KOSPI finished slightly lower on Thursday, bucking the regional trend of gain on losses from the technology stocks.

For the day, the index eased 7.78 points or 0.39 percent to finish at the daily high of 1,986.63 after moving as low as 1,969.09. Volume was 385 million shares worth 4.91 trillion won.

Among the actives, Samsung Electronics shed 2.9 percent and LG Electronics also lost 2.9 percent, while SK Innovation jumped 2.5 percent, LG Chem spiked 3.5 percent, POSCO climbed 1.4 percent and Hyundai Steel collected 2.4 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks extended gains from the previous session on Thursday, continuing to recover from the sell-off earlier in the week.

The support followed a Commerce Department report showing that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $46.0 billion in February from $52.5 billion in January. Economists had been expected a trade deficit of about $51.7 billion. The data indicated that trade wasn't as big of a drag on first quarter GDP growth as previously anticipated, and led Capital Economics to raise its first quarter GDP growth estimate to 2.5 percent from 2.0 percent.

Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Labor Department showing initial jobless claims rose to 380,000 in the week ended April 7 from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected claims to edge up to 359,000 from the 357,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department also reported that its producer price index was unchanged in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February, versus forecasts for an increase of 0.3 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the core producer price index rose 0.3 percent in March after edging up 0.2 percent in February, in line with expectations.

In corporate news, shares of Sony (SNE) ended lower after the consumer electronics giant said it will cut about 10,000 jobs in fiscal 2012 as part of a turnaround plan.

The major averages closed firmly in positive territory, near their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 181.19 points or 1.4 percent to finish at 12,986.58, while the NASDAQ surged 39.09 points or 1.3 percent to 3,055.05 and the S&P 500 soared 18.86 points or 1.4 percent to 1,387.57.

In economic news, the Bank of Korea will on Friday conclude its monetary policy meeting and announce its decision on interest rates. The bank is expected to keep rates on hold at 3.25 percent.

Also, South Korea's unemployment rate fell for the first time in five month in March, Statistics Korea said on Thursday. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent in March from February's 11-month high of 3.7 percent. Economists had expected a fall to 3.6 percent. The number of unemployed persons rose by 419,000 from a year earlier to 24.265 million in March.

by RTT Staff Writer

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