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South Korea Shares May Challenge 2,400-Point Level

The South Korea stock market has finished higher in back-to-back trading days, collecting more than 30 points or 1.2 percent along the way. The KOSPI now rests just above the 2,395-point plateau and it may tick slightly higher again on Wednesday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed and flat, with continued bargain hunting after recent weakness likely to provide mild support. The European markets were down and the U.S. markets were up and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.

The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Tuesday as gains from the technology stocks were capped by weakness from the industrials and a mixed picture from the financial sector.

For the day, the index advanced 9.81 points or 0.41 percent to finish at 2,395.19 after trading between 2,388.54 and 2,421.80. Volume was 417.09 million shares worth 7.23 trillion won. There were 575 decliners and 261 gainers.

Among the actives, Samsung Electronics soared 3.98 percent, while SK hynix surged 4.30 percent, LG Electronics jumped 2.59 percent, SK Chemicals spiked 3.88 percent, Shinhan Financial shed 0.93 percent, Woori Bank advanced 4.82 percent, Hyundai Motor dropped 0.97 percent, Kia Motors plunged 2.28 percent, POSCO skidded 1.24 percent, Hyundai Steel lost 0.76 percent, Daewoo Shipbuilding plummeted 2.82 percent and Hyundai Heavy surrendered 3.47 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is cautiously optimistic as stocks shrugged off a lower open to tick slightly higher on Tuesday, extending the upward move in the two previous sessions.

The Dow added 39.18 points or 0.16 percent to 24,640.45, while the NASDAQ advanced 31.55 points or 0.45 percent to 7,013.51 and the S&P rose 6.94 points or 0.26 percent to 2,662.94.

The rebound came as traders looked ahead to reports on consumer prices and retail sales on Wednesday. The data may have a significant impact on how the Federal Reserve will act regarding future interest rate hikes.

Crude oil futures were steady Tuesday, but unable to recoup recent losses. Analysts point to a surge in U.S. shale oil production as the cause of oil's retreat from 4-year highs above $66. WTI light sweet oil for March was down 0.2 percent at $59.19/bbl.

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