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South Korea Shares May Ease On Profit Taking

The South Korea stock market has climbed higher in back-to-back sessions, advancing more than 55 points or 2.5 percent along the way. Now at an eight-month closing high, the KOSPI sits just above the 2,205-point plateau, although investors may choose to lock in gains on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is slightly soft as disappointing U.S. jobs data may trigger profit taking after recent gains. The European and U.S. markets were down on Friday and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow suit.

The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Friday following gains from the technology stocks and mixed performances from the financial shares and automobile producers.

For the day, the index advanced 19.94 points or 0.91 percent to finish at 2,206.39 after trading between 2,188.10 and 2,206.92. Volume was 584 million shares worth 6.32 trillion won. There were 569 gainers and 265 decliners.

Among the actives, Shinhan Financial tumbled 2.01 percent, while KB Financial collected 0.65 percent, Hana Financial fell 0.29 percent, Samsung Electronics climbed 1.54 percent, LG Electronics added 0.56 percent, LG Display advanced 0.95 percent, LG Chem surged 6.04 percent, SK Hynix eased 0.10 percent, POSCO perked 1.50 percent, SK Telecom shed 0.43 percent, KEPCO sank 0.74 percent, Hyundai Motors jumped 1.79 percent and Kia Motors retreated 0.86 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is negative as stocks opened higher on Friday but headed south in the late morning and finished in the red, pulling back from record closing highs.

The major averages finished with mild losses as the Dow shed 133.13 points or 0.46 percent to 28,823.77, while the NASDAQ dipped 24.57 points or 0.27 percent to 9,178.86 and the S&P 500 fell 9.35 points or 0.29 percent to 3,265.35.

The higher open was the result of continued optimism over easing concerns about a conflict between the U.S. and Iran.

But the markets turned lower in late morning after the Labor Department's closely watched non-farm payroll data showed the pace of job growth slowed more than expected in December.

Crude oil prices drifted lower Friday, declining for a fourth successive session, amid easing tensions in the Middle East, after the U.S. decided against military action on Iran. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February ended down $0.52, or about 0.9 percent, at $59.04 a barrel.

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