The South Korea stock market picked up just a pair of points on Thursday - but that was enough to snap the five-day losing streak in which it had fallen more than 40 points or 2 percent. The KOSPI finished just below the 1,965-point plateau, and now traders remain cautiously optimistic for when the market opens on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets suggests mild upside following solid earnings news and U.S. economic data. After the bell, online retailer Amazon.com saw quarterly earnings per share breeze past Wall Street expectations, as did its quarterly sales. Earnings from Tyco International and computer chip maker Xilinx also beat forecasts. In addition, data showed that pending home rose in March. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourses were higher - and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.
The KOSPI finished barely higher on Thursday, nudged into the green by gains from the automobile producers.
For the day, the index added 2.06 points or 0.10 percent to finish at 1,964.04 after trading between 1,955.05 and 1,979.43. Volume was 599.2 million shares worth 5.27 trillion won. There were 532 decliners and 290 gainers.
Among the actives, Ssangyong Motor surged by the 15 percent daily limit, while Hyundai Motor jumped 1.8 percent, LG Electronics plummeted 6.2 percent and SK Hynix Semiconductor added 0.6 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is upbeat as stocks moved higher on Thursday, adding the gains posted in the previous session. The markets benefited from upbeat housing data, which helped to overshadow another disappointing jobs report.
The National Association of Realtors showed a much bigger than expected increase in pending home sales in March. Calling the data another signal that the housing market is recovering, NAR said its pending home sales index rose by 4.1 percent in March following a revised 0.4 percent increase in February. Economists had expected a much more modest 1.0 percent increase.
On the other hand, the Labor Department reported a smaller than expected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 21. Jobless claims edged down to 388,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 389,000 versus expectations for a fall to 375,000 from the 386,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Traders also digested the latest batch of earnings news, with share of Xilinx (XLNX) rising by 6.8 percent after the programmable computer chip maker reported better than expected fourth quarter results and provided upbeat first quarter revenue guidance. Tyco International (TYC) also ended the day higher after reporting second quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates.
In contrast, UPS (UPS) fell by 1.8 percent after the delivery giant reported first quarter earnings that rose year-over-year but came in below analyst estimates. Shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) also closed in the red after the oil giant reported first quarter earnings that fell by more than analysts had anticipated.
The major averages pulled back off their best levels going into the close but still ended the day firmly positive. The Dow rose 113.90 points or 0.9 percent to finish at 13,204.62, while the NASDAQ climbed 20.98 points or 0.7 percent to end at 3,050.61 and the S&P 500 added 9.29 points or 0.7 percent to 1,399.98.
In economic news, South Korea's gross domestic product climbed 0.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the previous three months, the Bank of Korea said in an advanced estimate on Thursday. That was in line with expectations following the 0.3 percent gain in the previous three months and the 0.8 percent gain in Q3.
On a yearly basis, GDP was up 2.8 percent - missing forecasts for a 3.0 percent gain following the 3.3 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the 3.5 percent gain in the third quarter.
by RTT Staff Writer
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