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Tech Shares Figure To Drag South Korea Shares Lower

The South Korea stock market headed south again on Monday, one session after snapping the two-day slide in which it had stumbled almost 80 points or 2.6 percent. The KOSPI now rests just beneath the 3,080-point plateau and the losses may accelerate on Tuesday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is flat to lower, with anticipated weakness from tech shares likely offset by support from crude oil prices. The European markets were slightly lower and the U.S. bourses were mixed and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.

The KOSPI finished modestly lower on Monday following losses from the financial shares and automobile producers, while the technology stocks and oil companies were mixed.

For the day, the index lost 27.87 points or 0.90 percent to finish at 3,079.75 after trading between 3,079.16 and 3,142.48. Volume was 1.8 billion shares worth 18 trillion won. There were 510 decliners and 339 gainers.

Among the actives, Shinhan Financial lost 0.46 percent, while KB Financial skidded 1.03 percent, Hana Financial tumbled 1.76 percent, Samsung Electronics shed 0.48 percent, LG Electronics declined 1.19 percent, SK Hynix rallied 2.63 percent, Samsung SDI plunged 4.03 percent, LG Chem tanked 2.66 percent, Lotte Chemical accelerated 2.37 percent, S-Oil spiked 2.36 percent, SK Innovation plummeted 4.05 percent, POSCO perked 1.71 percent, SK Telecom retreated 2.17 percent, KEPCO added 0.42 percent, Hyundai Motor dipped 0.21 percent and Kia Motors sank 2.20 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is mostly weak as stocks opened in the red on Monday and largely stayed that way, although the Dow managed to break into positive territory.

The Dow rose 27.37 points or 0.09 percent to finish at 31,521.69, while the NASDAQ plummeted 341.42 points or 2.46 percent to end at 13,533.05 and the S&P 500 lost 30.21 points or 0.77 percent to close at 3,876.50.

The steep drop by the NASDAQ came as traders moved out of technology stocks amid concerns about the impact of the recent increase in treasury yields. Electric car maker Tesla (TSLA), Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN) all took heavy damage.

The sell-off came as the yield on the benchmark ten-year note saw further upside, reaching its highest closing level in a year. Bond yields remain at historically low levels, but the recent increase may still spook investors already concerned that stocks are overbought.

In U.S. economic news, the Conference Board reported a bigger than expected increase by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators in January.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Monday amid supply concerns due to a slowdown in production after last week's severe cold snap. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures contracts for March expired at $61.49 a barrel, gaining $2.25 or 3.8 percent for the session.

Closer to home, the Bank of Korea said this morning that consumer confidence improved in January with a sentiment index score of 97.4 - up from 95.4 in December.

Consumer sentiment regarding current living standards was one point higher than in January at 87, and that concerning the future outlook for living standards was also one point higher than in the previous month at 94. The expected inflation rate for the following year was 2.0 percent.

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