RTTNews - After opening modestly higher and edging up a bit in early trading Friday, the South Korean market has pared some of its gains due to profit taking in a few technology and automobile stocks.

The benchmark index KOSPI, which moved on to 1,511 in early trading today, is currently up by 6.5 points or 0.43% at 1503. On Thursday, the KOSPI had ended up 2.45 points or 0.16% at 1,496.49, extending its winning streak to an eighth straight session.

In the tech space, Hynix Semiconductor rose by around 2.5% as the company's net loss narrowed to KRW58 billion from KRW711 billion a year ago. Though the result was worse than expected, Hynix said it expected better earnings in the second half of the year, largely because of strong seasonal demand. The stock is currently trading with a modest gain of 0.7%.

Among other technology stocks, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are up by 0.3% and 0.8% respectively, while LG Display LCD is down by 0.9%.

Among automobile stocks, Hyundai Motor is up by about a percent. Hyundai posted a net profit of 811.9 billion won in the second quarter, strongly beating a forecast of a 456 billion won profit by analysts. The company's operating profit during the quarter ended on June 30 was 657.3 billion won, better than what was expected. At 8%, the company's operating profit margin was the highest in the last five years.
Kia Motor is trading 1.7% up, while Ssangyong Motors is trading with a modest 0.6% gain.

In the shipbuilding space, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo shipbuilding are up modestly while Samsung Heavy Industries is down by 1.3%. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is trading up by over 1%.

Among bank stocks, Korea Exchange Bank is down with a modest loss. Woori Finance is gaining over 4% while KB Financial and Shinhan Financial are up by 1.4% and 0.5% respectively.

Oil stocks are trading flat. Energy major KEPCO is also trading weak. Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are up by 3.2% and 1.7% respectively.

Airliners Korea Airlines and Asiana Airlines are trading firm, while telecom stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

In economic news, South Korea's GDP grew a seasonally adjusted 2.3% in the second quarter from a 0.1% on-quarter gain in the first quarter, for the fastest growth since the fourth quarter of 2003. However, the market is not seeing any significant reaction to the second quarter GDP data as the figures are in line with expectations.

Other markets in the Asia-Pacific region are also trading firm. Japan, New Zealand and Singapore are up sharply, with their key indices gaining between 1.25% and 2%. The benchmark indices of Australia, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan are up by 0.25%- 1%. Stock markets across the region had finished on the upside on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks surged higher and ended on a firm note on Thursday on encouraging reports from the National Association of Realtors and the Labor Department. While existing home sales rose by a better-than-expected 3.6% in June, jobless claims rose by slightly less than economists had expected. Better-than-expected results from a few top firms including 3M, Ford and Wyeth also aided sentiment to a notable extent.

The Dow closed up by 188.03 points or 2.1% at 9,069.29 while the Nasdaq extended its winning streak to a twelfth successive session and settled 47.22 points or 2.5% up at 1,973.60. The S&P 500 moved up by 22.22 points or 2.3% to 976.29.

Major European markets also closed notably higher. While the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index finished up by 2.5% and 2.1% respectively, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index posted a 1.5% gain.

Crude oil prices turned sharply higher on Thursday as an encouraging housing report provided a boost for the prospects of energy demand. The rally took prices to a three-week high. Light sweet crude oil for September delivery closed at US$67.16, up US$1.76 on the session. Prices touched as high as US$67.49 after hitting as low as US$64.40 earlier in the session.

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