RTTNews - The positive close on Wall Street overnight set up a firm start for stocks in the Korean market on Thursday. Notwithstanding a setback it suffered after the first hour, the KOSPI index has edged higher and is currently trading in positive territory on the back of some spirited buying in bank, steel and energy stocks.

The benchmark index, which fell to 1,544.5 after an early surge to 1,565, is currently up by 4.8 points or 0.31% at 1,550.8.

Among key bank stocks, Shinhan Financial and KB Financial are up by 3.4% and 3.7% respectively. Woori Finance is trading higher by 2.7% while Korea Exchange Bank is up nearly 2%.

Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are trading higher by 2.7% and 2.8% respectively. Oil stocks SK Holdings and S-Oil are up with modest gains, while KEPCO is down by a modest 0.6%.

Among automobiles, Hyundai Motor is up 1.2%, Ssangyong Motor is trading modestly higher and Kia Motor is trading flat. In the technology space, Hynix Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics are trading flat, while LG Display LCD and LG Electronics are down with modest losses.

Shipbuilding stocks Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding are down by 1%-3%, while bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is down with a modest loss.

Telecom stocks are trading flat. Airliners Korea Airlines and Asiana Airlines are down by 3.4% and 2.2% respectively.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has pared early gains and is currently trading flat. Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Shanghai and Indonesia are up with notable gains while New Zealand and Taiwan are trading in the red with notable losses.

Stock markets across the region had finished notably lower on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks recovered from early weakness and finished notably higher on Wednesday, due largely to a jump in oil demand. Despite moving in a choppy fashion during the later part of the session, the major averages finished near their best levels of the day. The Dow closed up by 61.22 points or 0.7% at 9,279.16, the Nasdaq moved up by 13.32 points or 0.7% to 1,969.24 and the S&P 500 ended up by 6.79 points or 0.7% at 996.46.

Major European markets ended the day little changed, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index finishing just below the unchanged mark, while the German DAX index fell by 0.4%.

Crude oil soared to its best close in more than two months on Wednesday after an Energy Information Administration report showed that crude inventories unexpectedly fell sharply in the recent week. Light sweet crude for September settlement rallied to US$72.42 a barrel, up US$3.23 on the session.

Prices reached as high as US$72.80 earlier in the day.
The EIA said crude oil inventories decreased by 8.4 million barrels, while analysts expected to see an increase of about 1.1 million barrels for the week. At 343.6 million barrels, however, crude oil inventories remain above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year.

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