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KOSPI May Slide Back Below 2,000-Point Level

The South Korea stock market on Wednesday ended the two-day losing streak in which it had declined more than 20 points or 1 percent. The KOSPI finished just above the 2,000-point plateau, and now traders may be tempted to lock in gains when the market kicks off trade on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets suggests mild selling pressure as investors figure to take profits after hefty gains in the previous session, while some uninspired earnings news from Intel and IBM also may weigh on investors. Adding to the cautious sentiment, Spain's bad loans reached an 18-year high in February, the Bank of Spain said. About 8.16 percent of loans held by banks in February were non-performing, the highest since October 1994. The European and U.S. markets finished lower, and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow that lead.

The KOSPI finished sharply higher on Wednesday following gains from the technology stocks and shipbuilders.

For the day, the index climbed 19.23 points or 0.97 percent to finish at 2,004.53 after trading between 2,001.59 and 2,014.95 on volume of 378.4 million shares. There were 449 gainers and 358 decliners.

Among the gainers, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering spiked 6 percent, while Samsung Heavy Industries surged 5.7 percent, Samsung Electronics climbed 3.5 percent, LG Electronics added 0.9 percent and OCI Corp jumped 4.7 percent.

Wall Street offers a negative lead as stocks moved moderately lower on Wednesday, giving back some ground after ending the previous session sharply higher. Lingering concerns about the financial situation in Europe may also have led to the profit taking despite Tuesday's successful Spanish bond auction.

Soft earnings news also contributed to the weakness, with shares of Intel (INTC) falling by 1.8 percent after the semiconductor giant reported its first quarter results. Intel reported first quarter earnings that exceeded estimates on revenues that came in line with expectations. However, the company also provided disappointing gross margin guidance.

Shares of IBM (IBM) also ended the day in the red after the tech giant reported better than expected than first quarter earnings but on weaker than expected sales.

Meanwhile, internet media giant Yahoo (YHOO) moved to the upside on the day after reporting first quarter earnings and revenues that exceeded analyst estimates.

The major averages saw some volatility in late-day trading but all finished the day in the red. The Dow fell 82.79 points or 0.6 percent to finish at 13,032.75, while the NASDAQ dipped 11.37 points or 0.4 percent to end at 3,031.45 and the S&P 500 slid 5.64 points or 0.4 percent to 1,385.14.

by RTT Staff Writer

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