RTTNews - After an early surge and a subsequent fall, the Korean market is edging higher on Thursday on the back of some strong buying in banking and shipbuilding stocks. Automobile and technology stocks are exhibiting weakness. The flat close on Wall Street and caution ahead of earnings reports appear to have forced a section of investors to the sidelines today.

The Korean benchmark index KOSPI, which fell to 1,485 in mid morning trading, is currently up by around 6 points at 1,500. The KOSPI had ended up 5.05 points or 0.34% at 1,494 on Wednesday.

Among automobile stocks, Kia Motor and Hyundai Motors are trading lower by 3.5% and 2.7%, respectively. Ssangyong Motors, faring a lot better, is down with a modest 0.7% loss.

In the technology space, LG Electronics is down by 3.8% despite the company posting a record quarterly profit on strong mobile phone and TV sales. Though strong sales in the past quarter helped the company in winning market share from rivals Nokia and Motorola, concerns over weaker margins appear to have hurt sentiment at the LG Electronics stock counter today. The world's No.3 mobile phone maker is benefiting from a weak local currency and a strong lineup of flat-screen TVs, appliances and phones, including new premium products such as the multimedia touch screen phone ARENA.

Hynix Semiconductor is down with a loss of 2.3%, while market heavyweight Samsung Electronics and LG Display LCD are trading lower by 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively.

Oil stocks SK Holdings and S-Oil are trading flat, while energy major KEPCO is up nearly 3%. In the steel space, Hyundai Steel is down with a modest loss while POSCO is gaining about 0.5%.

Among bank stocks, Korea Exchange Bank and Woori Finance are trading higher by 1.9% and 1.7%, respectively. KB Financial is up modestly and Shinhan Financial is trading in negative territory with a small loss.

In the shipbuilding space, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding are exhibiting weakness, while Hyundai Heavy Industries is gaining 2.3%. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is down by over 1%.

Telecom stocks SK Telecom and KT Corp. are up by 1.7% and 3% respectively. Airlines are subdued.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore are trading sharply higher. Shanghai and Japan are trading flat while Taiwan and New Zealand are up with modest gains. The Australian market, which exhibited weakness in morning trades, has recovered lost ground and is almost back in green now. Markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday.

Markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks ended weak on low volumes on Wednesday amid mixed reaction to earnings reports. In economic news, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated that the U.S. economy is showing signs of stabilization, although he noted that the economy is still in a fragile state, with unemployment high and consumer spending shaky.

The Dow fell 34.68 points or 0.4% to 8,881 while the Nasdaq ended up 10.18 points or 0.5% at 1,926. The S&P 500 slipped by 0.51 points or 0.1% to 954.

Major European markets closed modestly higher, with the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index finishing up by 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively. The French CAC 40 index ended almost unchanged.

Crude oil prices dropped for the first time in six sessions amid uncertain trading on the first day with September as the front-month contract. Investors mulled data released by the Energy Information Administration on weekly inventories. Light sweet crude for September delivery closed at US$65.40 per barrel, down 21 cents on the session. Prices rose to a high of US$65.77, but later fell to US$65.35.

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