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South Korea Stocks May Halt Slide

The South Korea stock market has closed lower now in back-to-back sessions, falling almost 30 points or 1.3 percent along the way. The KOSPI finished just below the 1,975-point plateau, and now investors are looking for mild traction when the market kicks off trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed, after closing out last week in similar fashion. Support may be drawn from solid quarterly results from big-name companies such as Microsoft (MSFT), General Electric (GE), and McDonald's (MCD). Also, German business sentiment improved unexpectedly in April on rising optimism among manufacturers - although lingering uncertainty about the financial situation in Europe may cap the upside. The European markets finished higher on Friday and the U.S. bourses were mixed, and the Asian markets are expected to split the difference.

The KOSPI finished sharply lower on Friday following losses from the technology stocks and chemical companies.

For the day, the index plummeted 25.21 points or 1.26 percent to finish at 1,974.65 after trading between 1,970.54 and 1,988.22. Volume was 511.7 million shares worth 4.75 trillion won. There were 590 decliners and 241 gainers.

Among the decliners, LG Chem plummeted 9.2 percent, while Honam Petro Chemical plunged 8.3 percent, Kumho Petro Chemical dropped 7.1 percent, SK Hynix shed 4 percent and Hyundai Motor lost 2.1 percent.

The lead from Wall Street provides little guidance as upbeat earnings news moved stocks higher early on Friday, but buying interest waned in the afternoon. Traders subsequently sold into the rally, resulting in a mixed close for the markets.

The early strength on Wall Street was largely due to a positive reaction to quarterly results from big-name companies such as Microsoft (MSFT), General Electric (GE), and McDonald's (MCD).

Microsoft reported fiscal third quarter earnings of $0.60 per share, better than the consensus estimate of $0.58 per share. GE reported first quarter net earnings that fell year-over-year, although the diversified conglomerate reported adjusted earnings of $0.34 per share, a penny above analyst estimates. Fast food giant McDonald's reported first quarter earnings that rose to $1.23 per share from $1.15 per share in the year-ago quarter, in line with estimates.

Honeywell (HON), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and Capital One Financial (COF) were among the other well-known companies that reported better than expected quarterly results.

Trading activity was relatively subdued amid a lack of major U.S. economic data and lingering uncertainty about the financial situation in Europe. A notable drop by shares of Apple (AAPL) contributed to the pullback by the tech-heavy NASDAQ, with the tech giant closing down by 2.5 percent.

The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line, as the NASDAQ slipped 7.11 points or 0.2 percent to finish at 3,000.45, while the Dow rose 65.16 points or 0.5 percent to end at 13,029.26 and the S&P 500 edged up 1.61 points or 0.1 percent to 1,378.53. For the week, the major averages also turned in a mixed performance. While the NASDAQ fell by 0.4 percent, the Dow advanced by 1.4 percent and the S&P 500 rose by 0.6 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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