RTTNews - After a bright start on the back of a positive close on Wall Street, the Korean market has drifted lower and is trading just modestly higher now with profit taking wiping off early gains.

The benchmark index KOSPI, which moved on to 1,446 in early trading, is currently up with a gain of 3 points or 0.22% at 1,435. The index had ended with a gain of 11.36 points or 0.80% at 1,432 on Thursday.

Bank stocks are trading weak. Korea Exchange Bank, Woori Finance, Shinhan Financial Group and KB Financial are down by 0.5% - 2%.

Technology stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend. While LG Display LCD and Hynix Semiconductor are trading higher by 1.6% and 0.7%, respectively, LG Electronics is down in the red with a loss of 1.7%. Samsung Electronics has pared its gains and is trading flat.

In the automobile space, Kia Motor and Ssangyong Motors are trading weak, while Hyundai Motor is trading modestly higher. Airliners Korea Airlines and Asiana Airlines are exhibiting weakness.

Among steel majors, POSCO is down with a modest loss, while Hyundai Steel is up sharply with a 2.3% gain. Energy stocks are trading mixed. Telecommunication stocks are up modestly.

Among shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries are up with modest gains, while Daewoo Shipbuilding is trading flat. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is down by as much as 3% after recent sharp gains.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has pared early gains and is trading flat now. Shanghai and New Zealand are also trading flat. The Singapore market is off its morning high. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan are up with notable gains. Stocks markets in the region had closed mostly higher on Thursday on strong Wall Street cues and hopes of an economic revival.

On Thursday, Wall Street ended on a firm note, extending a recent upward move despite largely mixed economic and earnings news. On the economic front, a report from the Labor Department showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits continued to decrease in the week ended July 11th, with initial jobless claims falling by more than economists had been expecting. The report from Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia that showed a greater-than-expected fall in the index of manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region did hurt sentiment to an extent, but data on homebuilder confidence turned out to be a positive for the market.

Strong results from JP Morgan Chase kept the mood upbeat. The Dow closed up by 95.61 points or 1.1% at 8,712, the Nasdaq surged 22.13 points or 1.2% to 1,885 and the S&P 500 moved up by 8.06 points or 0.9% to 941.

Major European markets closed on the upside with moderate margins. The German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index moved up by 0.6% and 0.9% respectively while U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index posted a gain of 0.4%.

Crude oil turned to the upside after some early weakness Thursday and finished above the US$62 a barrel mark. A better-than-expected employment report improved expectations for energy demand. Light sweet crude oil for August settlement finished at US$62.05 per barrel, up 51 cents on the session. Earlier, oil had hit as low as US$60.29.

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