RTTNews - The South Korean stock market drifted down into the red on Friday after displaying some strength earlier in the day on strong cues from Wall Street. However, with select stocks finding support at lower levels, the Korean benchmark KOSPI has edged up into positive territory again. Though there are no negative news as such to warrant a fall, investors are treading a cautious path, presumably waiting for some strong signals to emerge.

The KOSPI, which fell to 1,373.24 after an initial surge to 1,393.39, is currently up by 1.06 points at 1,379.20. The KOSPI had finished sharply lower on Thursday, plunging 36.75 points or 2.6% to 1,378.14, due largely to continued profit taking from the recently concluded winning streak. Shipbuilders, financials and industrials ended with significant declines, while the technology shares provided a modicum of support.

Today, bank stocks are mostly trading firm. Korea Exchange Bank is up 3.5%, Woori Finance is trading higher by 2.5% and Shinhan Financial is gaining a modest 0.85%. However, KB Financial is down by a per cent.

Technology stocks are also trading in positive territory, though most of them are off their highs now. Hynix Semiconductor is up by 1.85%. LG Display LCD is trading 2.4% up and LG Electronics is up by 0.85%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is up by around a per cent.

Automobile stocks have come off their higher levels. Kia Motors and Hyundai Motor are down with modest losses. However, Ssangyong Motor remains positive with a gain of 1.4%.

Steel and oil stocks have drifted down into the red after a positive show. However, energy stock KEPCO is up by over 2.5%. Airlines and telecom stocks are also trading lower. In the shipbuilding space, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries are down by 3.3% and 3.5% respectively, while Daewoo Shipbuilding is up by 0.5%. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is down sharply by 2.7%.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia is trading sharply higher with its benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 gaining over 1.25%. The All Ordinaries index is currently up by 1.37%. The key indices of New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan markets are trading higher by 0.5%-1%. The Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng are also trading higher.

On Thursday, stock prices surged higher on Wall Street after an uncertain start. A highly encouraging report from the Labor Department that showed a decrease in first time jobless claims for the week ended May 30 and the first decrease in continuing claims in twenty weeks kept the mood fairly positive.

The major averages saw good upside in late session trading and closed just off of their best levels of the day. The Dow climbed 74.96 points or 0.9 percent to 8,750.24, the Nasdaq finished up 24.10 points or 1.3 percent at 1,850.02 and the S&P 500 closed up 10.70 points or 1.1 percent at 942.46.

In the Asia-Pacific region, markets finished modestly lower on Thursday. Major European markets finished modestly higher. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed up by 0.8 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index finished up by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil surged again on Thursday, boosted by an encouraging outlook from Goldman Sachs. Earlier, oil moved to within 40 cents of the key US$70 a barrel mark. Light sweet crude rallied to US$68.81 per barrel, up US$2.69 on the session. Oil hit a multi-month intraday high of US$69.60 earlier in the day.

Goldman Sachs raised its year-end forecast for crude oil to US$85 per barrel, up from the prior expectation of US$65 per barrel. The firm also indicated it no longer expects another drop before a rally.

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