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Losing Streak May End For South Korea Stock Market

The South Korea stock market has closed lower now in three straight sessions, falling more than 45 points or 2.5 percent in that span. The KOSPI ended just above the 1,945-point plateau, and now traders figure to go bargain hunting when the market kicks off trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive following encouraging news out of Europe and upbeat earnings news from the United States. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said on Friday that the Eurozone economy is set to start recovering in the second half of this year. In earnings news, Procter & Gamble beat the street, while Starbucks matched estimates. The European and U.S. markets were higher on Friday and the Asian bourses are expected to follow suit.

The KOSPI finished modestly lower on Friday following losses from the technology stocks and automobile producers.

For the day, the index dropped 17.79 points or 0.91 percent to finish at 1,946.69 after trading between 1,934.89 and 1,966.83. Volume was 395.9 million shares worth 4.97 trillion won. There were 497 decliners and 308 gainers.

Among the decliners, Samsung Electronics shed 2.48 percent, while LG Display lost 2.45 percent, Kia Motors plunged 4.88 percent and Hyundai Motor fell 3.37 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is upbeat as stocks moved higher on Friday after ending the previous session mixed. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to the latest batch of earnings news, which overshadowed a disappointing housing report.

Procter & Gamble (PG) reported adjusted earnings of $1.22 per share on revenues of $22.2 billion, while analysts had expected earnings of $1.11 per share on revenues of $21.9 billion. The consumer products giant also raised its guidance for 2013.

Starbucks (SBUX) also saw notable strength after reporting fiscal first quarter earnings that rose year-over-year and came in line with analyst estimates. The company also reaffirmed its full-year guidance.

Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) saw a more modest upward move after the software giant reported fiscal second quarter earnings that fell compared to the year-ago period but exceeded analyst estimates.

With the focus on earnings, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Commerce Department showing that new home sales fell 7.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 in December from the revised November rate of 398,000. Economists had expected home sales to climb to 388,000 from the 377,000 originally reported for the previous month.

The major U.S. averages were higher on Friday as the Dow rose 70.65 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 13,895.98, while the NASDAQ climbed 19.33 points or 0.6 percent to close at 3,149.71 and the S&P 500 advanced 8.14 points or 0.5 percent to end at 1,502.96. With the gains, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new five-year highs, and all three major averages moved higher for the fourth straight week. The NASDAQ edged up by 0.5 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 jumped by 1.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

In economic news, South Korea's Composite Consumer Sentiment Index came in with a score of 102 in January, the Bank of Korea said on Monday, up by three points over December. Consumer sentiment on current living standards and their outlook were both three points higher than in the previous month, at 88 and 96 respectively.

Consumer sentiment regarding current domestic economic conditions was unchanged at 67, while the future outlook rose by five points to 90. Consumer sentiment on prospective changes in household income rose by four points to 101, while that on expected spending was one point lower than in the previous month at 107. The expectation for inflation during the following year was 3.2 percent.

On the corporate scene, Kia Motors said fourth quarter consolidated net income declined 6.7 percent to 737.5 billion won from 790.4 billion won a year earlier. Sequentially, profit dropped 11.1 percent. Operating income plunged 51.1 percent to 404.2 billion won from 826.9 billion won last year and down 49.6 percent from the prior quarter. Quarterly sales rose 2.9 percent to 11.277 trillion won from 10.963 trillion won, but fell 3.0 percent sequentially.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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