The Korean stock market edged up in early trading but has drifted lower subsequently with participants resorting to some profit taking in a few front line stocks.

The benchmark index, which KOSPI moved on to 1,412 in early trading, is currently down 6.72 points or 0.48% at 1,394.

With the stress tests on 19 largest financial institutions in U.S. throwing up no major surprises, the focus is now on U.S. employment data that will be released today.

Bank, automobile, technology and airlines stocks are trading weak. Oil and shipbuilding stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

Among bank stocks, Korea Exchange Bank is down nearly a percent. Woori Finance is down 4% from its previous close and Shinhan Financial Group is trading 1.4% down. KB Financial is trading lower by 2.8%.

In the automobile space, Kia Motors and Hyundai Motor are trading lower by 1.8% and 3% respectively. Ssangyong Motors is trading modestly higher.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is down marginally. Hynix Semiconductor is down by over 2%. LG Display LCD is up marginally while LG Electronics is by about a percent.

Among oil issues, SK Holdings is up 2% while S-Oil is trading 1.5% down. Steel maker Hyundai Steel is up 0.7%. POSCO is up marginally. Energy stock KEPCO is trading 1.7% down.

Almost all the markets in the Asia-Pacific region are trading lower now. Benchmark indices of Hong Kong, Australia and Taiwan are trading 0.5% - 1% down. Singapore and Shanghai markets are trading marginally lower.

On Thursday, stock markets in the Asia-Pacific region had extended their recent upward moves, with Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index jumping 4.6 percent. Japanese stocks were playing catch-up after the market was closed for the three previous sessions.

The major European markets ended on a mixed note on Thursday after seeing considerable strength earlier in the session. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 posted a modest gain, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell 1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Save for a brief while at the start, Wall Street remained in the red and closed with sharp losses on Thursday as participants cashed in on the market's recent gains and took profits ahead of the release of the results of the government's stress tests of the nation's nineteen largest financial institutions.

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