RTTNews - After a weak start and a subsequent rally, the Korean market has drifted down into the red on Thursday with investors choosing to take some profits after recent strong gains.

The KOSPI, which had surged to 1,572 earlier in the day after opening modestly lower at 1,556, is now down by 3 points or 0.19% at 1,556.

The index had finished lower by 6.9 points or 0.4% at 1,559.47 on Wednesday, as gains among financial stocks were wiped out by selling pressure among technology shares and automobile producers.

Technology stocks are mostly trading lower. Hynix Semiconductor and LG Electronics are down by 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively, while LG Display LCD and heavyweight Samsung Electronics are down by about 0.6% each.

Steel stocks are trading mixed with Hyundai Steel drifting lower by 1% and POSCO recording a modest 0.8% gain. Oil stocks SK Holdings and S-Oil are up by 2.7% and 1%, respectively. KEPCO is up by 1.2%.

Among bank stocks, Korea Exchange Bank is up by 4%, while Woori Finance, Shinhan Financial and KB Financial are trading up by 1.4% - 1.6%.

In the automobile space, Ssangyong Motor is up nearly 10%. Kia Motor is up 0.7% and Hyundai Motor is trading 1.3% down. Among shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding are trading modestly higher, while Samsung Heavy Industries is exhibiting weakness. STX Pan Ocean is up by 1.3%.

Telecom stocks SK Telecom and KT Corp are trading modestly higher. Airlines are trading mixed.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Japan and Indonesia are trading firm. Shanghai has declined sharply. Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore are trading modestly lower. Stock markets across the region had finished Wednesday's trading markedly lower.

On Wall Street, disappointing data on the health of the service sector and the labor market generated some selling pressure and dragged the major averages down to a negative close on Wednesday.

The Dow closed down by 39.22 points or 0.4% at 9,281, the Nasdaq slipped by 18.26 points or 0.9% to 1,993 and the S&P 500 ended lower by 2.93 points or 0.3% at 1,003.

Major European markets closed lower on Wednesday, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index both posting losses of 0.5%, while the German DAX index drifted down by 0.2%.

Crude oil prices turned modestly higher on Wednesday as optimism over an economic revival outweighed Energy Information Administration data showing another increase in weekly supplies. Light sweet crude oil rose to US$71.97 per barrel, up 55 cents on the session. Prices had earlier dipped as low as US$69.71.

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