RTTNews - The winning streak has stretched to nine sessions now for the South Korean stock market, which has jumped more than 125 points or 9 percent on its way to a fresh 10-month closing high. The KOSPI closed above the 1,500-point plateau, although investors are uncertain about the market's ability to hold that line when trade begins on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets provide little guidance as expected declines among the financials and technology sectors could be offset by gains among health care and pharmaceutical stocks. The markets in Europe and the United States finished mixed on Friday, but not too far from the unchanged line one way or the other. With many of the Asian bourses benefitting from significant winning streaks last week, a mild downside correction could be in order.

The KOSPI finished slightly higher on Friday, although profit taking in the afternoon session cut into a solid open in the morning, thanks to better than expected GDP data. Technology stocks were mixed, while energy shares finished under pressure.

For the day, the index added 6.10 points or 0.4 percent to close at 1,502.59 after trading between 1,496.89 and 1,510.82. Volume was 525.4 million shares worth 6.4 trillion won, with gainers outnumbering losers 476 to 310.

Among the gainers, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction jumped 6.7 percent, while Hyundai Heavy Industries added 4.3 percent, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering was up 1.2 percent, Samsung Electronics was up 0.7 percent, Lotte Shopping gained 2.3 percent, Hyundai Steel gained 2.9 percent and POSCO added 2.2 percent.

Bucking the trend, Hynix Semiconductor shed 0.3 percent, while Korea Electric Power Corp. dropped 1.2 percent and SK Energy lost 1.3 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is mixed as stocks were able to regain some ground but still finished Friday's session on a mixed note after discouraging news from Microsoft (MSFT) prompted a lower open. The Dow and the S&P 500 were able to eke out modest gains, while the NASDAQ snapped a 12-day wining streak.

Earlier selling pressure was generated by disappointing earnings from Microsoft, which reported weaker than expected quarterly sales, while American Express (AXP), Amazon.com (AMZN), Black & Decker (BDK), Schlumberger (SLB) and others offered a mixed bag of results.

Traders largely shrugged off a mixed report from Reuters and the University of Michigan, which showed that their reading on consumer sentiment for the month of July was upwardly revised from the preliminary reading but still came in well below the previous month. The report said that the consumer sentiment index for July came in at 66.0 compared to the preliminary reading of 64.6, although it remained below a reading of 70.8 for June. Economists had expected the index to be revised up to 65.0.

Meanwhile, some traders looked to Capitol Hill, where Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were among government officials testifying before the House Financial Services Committee regarding financial service regulatory reform. Notably, the Fed chief indicated that the government is winding down its unprecedented intervention in the U.S. financial system.

The major averages eventually ended the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line, with the NASDAQ stuck in the red. While the NASDAQ slipped by 7.64 points or 0.4 percent to 1,965.96, the Dow climbed 23.95 points or 0.3 percent to 9,093.24 and the S&P 500 rose by 2.97 points or 0.3 points to 979.26. Despite the mixed performance for the session, the major averages all posted strong gains for the week. The Dow rose 4 percent for the week, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 4.2 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.

In economic news, South Korean gross domestic product expanded by 2.3 percent in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the previous three months, the Bank of Korea said on Friday in an advanced reading, marking the fastest quarterly rise since Q4 of 2003.

Analysts had been expecting a 2.2 percent quarterly increase following the 0.1 percent gain in the previous three months.

On an annual basis, gross domestic product eased 2.5 percent - in line with forecasts following the 4.3 percent annual contraction in Q1.

On the production side, manufacturing and services finished higher on quarter, while agriculture, utilities and construction wound up lower. Among expenditures, private spending, government spending, capital investment, construction investment and merchandise imports and exports all finished higher on quarter.

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