RTTNews - After an initial surge, the Korean market drifted down into the red on Thursday morning before forcing its way up again on frenzied buying in bank stocks.

The benchmark index KOSPI, which dropped down to 1,606 earlier in the day, is currently trading at 1,616, up 2.8 points, or 0.16% over its previous close. The index had ended down by 9.9 points, or 0.61% at 1,613 on Wednesday.

Among key bank stocks, Woori Finance is up by over 6%, Korea Exchange Bank and KB Financial are trading higher by about 4.7% and 4.6%, respectively, while Shinhan Financial is up with a 3.6% gain.

Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are up by 2.5% and 1.5%, respectively. Telecom stocks SK Telecom and KT Corp. are also trading with notable gains.

In the technology space, Hynix Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics are trading modestly lower, while LG Electronics is down by about 2.3%. However, LG Display LCD is bucking the trend and gaining 0.3%.

Automobile stocks Kia Motor and Hyundai Motor are declining by 2.4% and 4% respectively. Ssangyong Motors is down by as much as 6%.

Oil stocks SK Holdings and S-Oil are exhibiting some weakness. KEPCO is trading up by about 1%.

Shipbuilders are trading mixed. Airliners are trading modestly higher. Telecom stocks SK Telecom and KT Corp are also trading firm.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Nikkei traded lower this morning and was down by about 0.4% at the end of the morning session. Shanghai is trading sharply higher. Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan are up with notable gains. Australia is trading flat. Stock markets across the region had closed mostly lower on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, a late session sell-off resulted in a lower close for stocks on Wednesday. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its August meeting, indicating that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee are more confident that the economic downturn is ending and that growth is likely to resume in the second half of the year. According to a release from the Commerce Department, factory orders increased by less than economists had been expecting in July.

The Dow closed down 29.93 points, or 0.3%, at 9,281, the Nasdaq fell by 1.82 points, or 0.1%, to 1,967 and the S&P 500 declined by 3.29 points, or 0.3% to close at 995.

Major European markets posted modest losses, with the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index falling by 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipped by less than a tenth of a percent.

Crude oil prices finished unchanged on Wednesday after posting sharp declines in the last two sessions. Investors mulled over an Energy Information Administration report that revealed inventories fell last week, but not as much as expected. Light sweet crude oil for October delivery finished at US$68.05 per barrel for a second straight session.

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