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Little Movement Expected For South Korea Stock Market

The South Korea stock market has closed lower now in two straight sessions, giving away almost 20 points or 1 percent in the process. The KOSPI finished just above the 2,025-point plateau, and now analysts are predicting a narrow range at the opening of trade on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed, with the markets drawing support from the U.K. budget speech that suggested the British economy is seen expanding faster than expected earlier. On the downside, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called Europe's financial economic situation difficult, while the National Association of Realtors reported a modest drop in existing home sales in February. The European and U.S. markets ended mixed but little changed, and the Asian bourses are expected to follow that lead.

The KOSPI finished modestly lower on Wednesday following losses from the steel producers and oil companies.

For the day, the index lost 14.92 points or 0.73 percent to finish at 2,027.23 after trading between 2,022.97 and 2,039.80. Volume was 511 million shares worth 5.1 trillion won. There were 542 decliners and 273 gainers.

Among the decliners, POSCO shed 2.26 percent, while Hyundai Steel plunged 3.37 percent, S-Oil plummeted 3.28 percent, Samsung Electronics lost 1.97 percent, Woori Investment & Securities dropped 2.16 percent and KT&G fell 2.4 percent.

The lead from Wall Street provides little clarity as stocks showed a lack of direction on Wednesday, with traders reluctant to make any significant moves. The choppy trading came after stocks ended the previous session mostly lower but well off their worst levels.

While recent indicators have pointed to a continued recovery by the U.S. economy, some analysts believe the markets need to stage a temporary correction before they can see any further upside. At the same time, traders have largely seemed hesitant to cash in on the recent gains amid concerns that stocks could leg up further on more upbeat data.

Traders shrugged off a report from the National Association of Realtors showing that existing home sales slipped 0.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million in February from an upwardly revised 4.63 million in January. Economists had expected existing home sales to edge up to 4.61 million from the 4.57 million in the previous month. The drop came after sales surged by an upwardly revised 5.7 percent in January.

Among individual stocks, shares of Oracle (ORCL) turned lower despite stronger than expected adjusted third quarter earnings amid a notable increase in new software license revenues. Business uniform supplier Cintas (CTAS) also ended the day in the red despite reporting better than expected third quarter earnings and raising its full year earnings guidance above estimates.

The major averages ended the session mixed, with the NASDAQ inching up 1.17 points or less than a tenth of a percent to finish at 3,075.32, while the Dow fell 45.57 points or 0.4 percent to end at 13,124.62 and the S&P 500 slipped 2.63 points or 0.2 percent to 1,402.89.

by RTT Staff Writer

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