RTTNews - The Korean stock market is trading firm on Friday with investors picking up bank, technology and automobile stocks, buoyed by the strong overnight lead from Wall Street. The firm trend in markets across the Asia-Pacific region where investors are busy bargain hunting, also contributed to the surge.

The benchmark index KOSPI, moving in a tight band, is currently trading at 1,395.20, up 14.25 points or 1.01% over its previous close. The index had closed lower by 34.57 points or 2.37% at 1,380.95 in the previous session.

Technology, steel and bank stocks are trading firm. In the banking space, Shinhan Financial and KB Financial are trading higher by 3.3% and 3.7% respectively. Woori Finance is up 4.4% while Korea Exchange Bank is trading with a 2% gain.

Among technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor is up by 0.75%. LG Display LCD is trading 1.7% up and LG Electronics is gaining 3.25%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is trading 1.5% up. Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are trading stronger by 1.6% and 1% respectively.

In the automobile space, Kia Motors and Saangyong Motor are trading higher by 2.5% and 3% respectively, while Hyundai Motors is down with a modest loss.

Among oil issues, S-Oil is down modestly while SK Holdings is trading flat. Energy stock KEPCO is down 1.4%. Airliners are trading mixed with Asiana Air Line surging 3.75% and Korean Air Line drifting lower by 4.6%. In the telecom space, KT Corp is down 1.3% while SK Telecom is trading modestly higher.

Shipbuilders are exhibiting a mixed trend. Hyundai Heavy Industries is trading flat. Samsung Heavy Industries is up 0.7% while Daewoo Shipbuilding is down by around 1%. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is trading 0.4% down.

Other markets in the Asia-Pacific region are trading with sharp gains today with investors thronging front line counters on renewed optimism about an economic revival.

The stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw notable weakness on Thursday following the sell-off seen on Wall Street overnight. Most of the indices in the region ended sharply lower on widespread selling.

However, major European markets ended the day above the unchanged line, benefiting from some late-day strength. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.7 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index edged up 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

On Wall Street, despite a bigger than expected increase in unemployment claims for the week ended May 9th, stocks surged higher on Thursday as traders went bargain hunting after recent setbacks.

Finishing off their highs, the Dow and Nasdaq gained 46.43 points and 25.02 points respectively and the S&P 500 closed up 9.15 points.

According to the data released by the Labor Department, initial jobless claims rose to 637,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 605,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge up to 610,000 from the 601,000 originally reported for the previous month.

Additionally, the report showed a continued increase in continuing claims, which rose to a new record high of 6.560 million in the week ended May 2nd from the preceding week's revised level of 6.358 million. The continued increase in continuing claims reflects an ongoing hiring freeze.

In other economic news, producer prices increased by a little more than expected in the month of April, according to a separate report released by the Labor Department, with the increase in prices partly due to a rebound in food prices.

A slew of economic data is scheduled to be released on Friday, including the Labor Department's report on consumer price inflation in the month of April. Economists expect consumer prices to come in unchanged after edging down 0.1 percent in March. Trading could also be impacted by the release of reports on industrial production, consumer sentiment, and regional manufacturing activity.

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