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South Korea Shares May Be Stuck In Neutral

The South Korea stock market bounced higher again on Thursday, one session after it had snapped the two-day winning streak in which it had advanced almost 20 points or 0.9 percent. The KOSPI now rests just above the 2,155-point plateau and it's expected to spin its wheels on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is flat with a touch of weakness on global trade concerns. The European markets were slightly higher and the U.S. bourses were mixed and little changed and the Asian markets are expected to follow the latter lead.

The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Thursday as gains from the financial shares and technology stocks were capped by weakness from the automobile producers.

For the day, the index rose 7.27 points or 0.34 percent to finish at 2,155.68 after trading between 2,142.31 and 2,158.34. Volume was 337.19 million shares worth 5.8 trillion won. There were 626 gainers and 213 decliners.

Among the actives, Shinhan Financial advanced 1.51 percent, while KB Financial collected 1.07 percent, Hana Financial accelerated 1.20 percent, LG Electronics spiked 1.57 percent, SK hynix added 0.75 percent, POSCO perked 0.59 percent, SK Innovation climbed 2.15 percent, S-Oil jumped 2.82 percent, Hyundai Motor tumbled 2.86 percent, Kia Motors skidded 1.02 percent, SK Telecom gained 0.41 percent, KEPCO was up 1.00 percent and Samsung Electronics was unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street offers little clarity as stocks showed a lack or direction on Thursday, bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before ending the session mixed.

The Dow added 7.05 points or 0.03 percent to 25,709, while the NASDAQ fell 12.50 points or 0.16 percent to 7,630.91 and the S&P 500 lost 2.44 points or 0.09 percent to 2,808.48.

The choppy trading on Wall Street followed uncertainty about Brexit, with members of parliament voting in favor of delaying Brexit after they rejected the idea of leaving the European Union without a deal.

Renewed concerns about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China weighed on the markets after reports said a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping has been pushed back.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department reported a substantial pullback in new home sales in January. A separate report from the Labor Department showed U.S. import and export prices both rose more than anticipated in February.

Crude oil prices edged higher Thursday, extending gains to a fourth successive session, on data that showed a drop in U.S. crude inventories last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended up $0.35 or 0.6 percent at $58.61 a barrel, a fresh high since mid-November.

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