RTTNews - After opening modestly higher, the Korean market edged up a bit this morning but has drifted down and pared some gains subsequently with investors turning wary of holding positions at higher levels.

Even as automobile and select technology stocks trade firm with notable gains, stocks from banking, steel, energy and shipbuilding sectors are seen struggling to hold at higher levels today.

The benchmark index KOSPI, which fell to 1,549 after an early surge to 1,562, is currently trading at 1,558, up 7.8 points or 0.5% over its previous close. On Tuesday, the KOSPI had ended up 3.2 points, or 0.01%, at 1,550.

Automobile stocks Kia Motor and Hyundai Motor are up by 1.5% and 3.6% respectively. Ssangyong Motor is currently trading higher by about 8%.

Among technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor is up by as much as 4%, Samsung Electronics and LG Display LCD are trading modestly higher, while LG Electronics is up by about 1%.

In the banking space, Korea Exchange Bank, Woori Finance and Shinhan Financial are trading down by 1% - 2.5%, while KB Financial is bucking the trend and gaining 0.8%.

Oil stocks SK Holdings and S-Oil are down by 1% and 0.8%, respectively. KEPCO is trading with a 2% gain. Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are trading lower by 1.5% and 0.7% respectively.

Among shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding have lost 3% each and Samsung Heavy Industries is down by over 2%. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is trading 2.8% down from its previous close.

Telecom stocks are subdued today. In the airlines space, Korea Airlines is gaining 1.5% and Asiana Airlines is up by a modest 0.7%.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand, Shanghai, Taiwan and Indonesia are trading firm with their benchmark indices gaining 0.4% - 1%. Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore are exhibiting weakness. Stock markets across the region had finished on a mixed note Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks saw notable strength on Tuesday, partly offsetting the steep losses posted in the previous session amid some encouraging earnings reports. A report from the Commerce Department showed an unexpected decrease in housing starts in the month of July.

The Dow closed up by 82.07 points, or 0.9%, at 9,217, the Nasdaq advanced by 25.08 points, or 1.3%, to 1,956 and the S&P 500 rose by 9.94 points, or 1%, to 990.

Major European markets all ended the day higher, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rising by 0.6% and 0.5% respectively, while the German DAX index finished up by 0.7%.

Crude oil moved higher with recovering global equities improving the prospects for energy demand. Light sweet crude for September delivery rose to US$69.19, up US$2.44 on the session. Prices hit as high as US$69.58 after earlier hitting a low of US$66.11.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com