RTTNews - The Korean market is trading firm on Monday with investors making a beeline for stocks cutting across various sectors on renewed optimism about a global economic recovery. The strong close on Wall Street last Friday on better-than-expected existing home sales data and positive remarks by the Federal Reserve chairman is contributing to the buoyant mood in the Asia-Pacific region today.

The Korean benchmark index KOSPI, which surged to 1,612 after opening at 1,604, is currently trading at 1,606, up by about 25 points or 1.6% over its previous close. The KOSPI had ended with a modest gain of 4.6 points or 0.3% at 1,581 last Friday.

Bank stocks Shinhan Financial and Woori Finance are trading higher by 3.2% and 3%, respectively. Korea Exchange Bank is up by 1.3% and KB Financial is trading with a 1.2% gain.

Among technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor is trading up by 4%, heavyweight Samsung Electronics is gaining 3% and LG Electronics is up by 1.8%. However, LG Display LCD is trading weak with a loss of 1.8%.

In the automobile space, Hyundai Motor is up by nearly 5.5%. Kia Motor is trading modestly higher while Ssangyong Motors is down in negative territory with a sharp 11% loss.

Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are up by 2% and 0.8%, respectively. Among oil stocks, SK Holdings is up by 1.5% and S-Oil is trading with a modest 0.6% gain. Kepco is trading weak.

Airlines and telecom stocks are trading mixed. Among shipbuilders, Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai Heavy Industries are trading flat. STX Pan Ocean is up by 1.4% while Daewoo Shipbuilding is trading with a gain of 2%.'

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan are trading sharply higher with their benchmark indices gaining between 2% and 3.25%. Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan are also up sharply today. New Zealand and Shanghai markets are trading with modest gains. Stock markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks saw a notably strong outing on Friday, with early buying interest spearheaded by better than expected existing home sales data and relatively optimistic economic commentary from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Dow closed up by 155.91 points or 1.7% at 9,506 the Nasdaq climbed by 31.68 points or 1.6% to 2,021and the S&P 500 moved up by 18.76 points or 1.9% to 1,026.

Major European markets all closed substantially higher on Friday, with the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index rising by 3.2% and 2.9% respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index finished up by 2%.

Crude oil prices surged on Friday on hopes of increased energy demand. After ending Thursday's trading down US$0.92 at US$72.91 a barrel, crude for October delivery ended its first day as the front-month contract up US$0.98 at US$73.89 a barrel. The price of oil rose as high as US$74.72 a barrel before giving back some ground.

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