The South Korea stock market has closed higher now in four straight trading days, climbing more than 90 points or 4.9 percent in that span. The KOSPI finished just above the 1,940-point plateau, although now traders are expecting mild consolidation when the market kicks off trade on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed and flat, with profit taking likely on the menu after the regional bourses rallied on Thursday following the release of Chinese economic data that was generally in line with expectations. Some positive economic data from the U.S. may provide mild support. The European and U.S. markets were mixed but little changed and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow suit.
The KOSPI finished sharply higher on Thursday following gains from the technology stocks and the automobile producers.
For the day, the index surged 37.33 points or 1.96 percent to finish at 1,940.59 after trading between 1,907.13 and 1,947.08. Volume was 483.1 million shares worth 6.32 trillion won. There were 592 gainers and 234 decliners.
Among the gainers, Samsung Electronics jumped 1.52 percent, while Hana Financial spiked 3.38 percent, Hyundai Motor climbed 3.39 percent and STX Offshore and Shipbuilding surged 7.12 percent.
The lead from Wall Street provides little clarity as stocks turned in another lackluster performance on Thursday, with traders reluctant to make any significant moves. The major averages remained stuck near the unchanged line throughout the session after ending the previous session nearly flat.
The choppy trading came as traders expressed continued uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following recent strength. While optimism about further monetary stimulus helped to drive stocks higher in recent weeks, traders seem reluctant to continue buying without any official announcement.
Some upbeat economic data helped to keep traders from cashing in on the recent gains, as the Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in weekly jobless claims - which fell to 361,000 in the week ended August 4 from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 367,000 from the 365,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Also, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $42.9 billion in June from $48.0 billion in May. The trade deficit had been expected to narrow to $47.5 billion. The narrower than expected trade deficit reflected an increase in the value of exports and a decrease in the value of imports.
Among individual stocks, shares of Allscripts Healthcare showed a strong upward move after the healthcare information services provider raised its full year earnings guidance. Online broker E*Trade also turned in a strong performance on news that CEO Steven Freiberg has left the company. Meanwhile, shares of SunPower came under pressure after the solar products and services company provided disappointing guidance.
The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the Dow edging down 10.45 points or 0.1 percent to finish at 13,165.19, while the NASDAQ rose 7.39 points or 0.3 percent to end at 3,018.64 and the S&P 500 crept up 0.58 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 1,402.80.
In economic news, the Bank of Korea's monetary policy board on Thursday held interest rates steady at 3.00 percent, in line with expectations. The central bank had surprised analysts last month with a 25-basis point cut after 12 straight meetings with no change.
Most analysts called another possible rate cut highly unlikely -particularly since inflation was up just 1.5 percent on year in July for the lowest reading since May 2000. The headline figure was below expectations for 1.9 percent and down sharply from 2.2 percent in June. Inflation also slipped below the central bank's target range of 2 to 4 percent last month.
by RTT Staff Writer
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