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Techs May Weigh On Korea Stocks

1/23/2013 6:31 PM ET

The South Korea stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last four trading days since the end of the three-day losing streak in which it had retreated more than 30 points or 1.5 percent. The KOSPI finished just above the 1,980-point plateau, and now analysts are forecasting a flat open for the market on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed to higher following a slew of corporate earnings that were generally positive. Tech giants IBM Corp. and Google both beat estimates, as did fast food giant McDonalds and many others. But Apple Inc. disappointed after Wall Street's closing bell, possibly putting pressure on technology stocks. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourses were slightly higher, and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.

The KOSPI finished modestly lower on Wednesday as losses from the telecoms and financial shares were offset by support from the automobile producers and a mixed bag from the technology stocks.

For the day, the index lost 16.11 points or 0.81 percent to finish at the daily low of 1,980.41 after peaking at 2,008.06. There were 514 decliners and 300 gainers.

Among the actives, LG Household and Healthcare plummeted 7.5 percent, Samsung Electronics shed 0.5 percent, SK Telecom lost 1.15 percent and KT Corp. fell 0.26 percent, while Samsung SDI added 0.68 percent, Hyundai Mobis spiked 0.55 percent and Hyundai Motor climbed 1.63 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is cautiously optimistic as stocks saw modest strength on Wednesday, with traders reacting positively to the latest batch of earnings news. The gains extended a recent upward move by the markets, although buying interest was somewhat subdued.

Tech giants IBM Corp. (IBM) and Google (GOOG) were up after reporting Q4 earnings that beat estimates. McDonald's (MCD) also reported fourth quarter earnings that rose year-over-year and topped estimates. The company also reported stronger than expected revenue growth.

Fellow Dow component United Technologies (UTX) reported fourth quarter earnings that fell on year but still exceeded expectations. The diversified conglomerate also reaffirmed its guidance for 2013.

But after the bell, Apple Inc. (AAPL) beat estimates for profit, although revenue fell short and the stock has been hammered after hours.

The markets also gained after the House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that would temporarily suspend the U.S. debt limit for nearly four months. The legislation ties the suspension of the debt limit to the passage of a budget plan by both the House and the Senate.

The major averages all ended the day in positive territory, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new five-year closing highs. The Dow rose 66.96 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 13,779.17, while the NASDAQ climbed 10.49 points or 0.3 percent to close at 3,153.67 and the S&P 500 edged up 2.22 points or 0.2 percent to end at 1,494.78.

In economic news, South Korea's gross domestic product was up a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the previous three months, the Bank of Korea said on Thursday. That missed forecasts for an increase of 0.5 percent but marked an improvement over the 0.1 percent gain in the third quarter.

On a yearly basis, GDP was up 1.5 percent - unchanged from the previous three months, but below forecasts for a gain of 1.7 percent. For all of 2012, GDP was up 2.0 percent on year.

by RTT Staff Writer

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