RTTNews - After a weak start and a subsequent rally into positive territory, the Korean market has drifted lower on selling pressure as concerns over the U.S. economy and the test-firing of nuclear missiles by North Korea weighed in to an extent. The likely bankruptcy of U.S. automaker General Motors is proving to be another dampener for the market.

The Korean benchmark index KOSPI, which edged higher to 1,375 earlier this morning, is currently trading at 1,356, down 6.07 points or 0.45% from its previous close.

The KOSPI had slipped to its lowest closing value in a month as it settled at 1,362 on Wednesday, posting a loss of 10.02 points for the session.

Banking stocks are mostly lower, with Woori Finance and Shinhan Finance declining by 1% and 0.5%, respectively, while KB Financial is trading sharply lower, losing 2.5% from its previous close. On the other hand, Korea Exchange Bank is up 1.3%.

Technology stocks are trading firm with Hynix Semiconductor and LG Electronics moving up by 4.35% and 5.3% respectively. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is up nearly 2% and LG Display LCD is trading 2.3% up.

In the steel space, Hyundai Steel and POSCO are trading higher by 2% and 1.8%, respectively. Oil stocks SK Holdings and S-Oil and energy stock KEPCO are trading weak.

Automobile stocks are trading mixed. Kia Motors is up 4.3% and Hyundai Motor is gaining 3.4%. However, Ssangyong Motor is trading lower by 1.3%.

Among shipbuilders, Daewoo Shipbuilding is up 1.2% while Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries trade weak. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is trading 6% up. In the telecom space, KT Corp. is up by over 6%, while SK Telecom is down 1.1%. Airline stock Korean Air Line is trading firm with a gain of 1.35%.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are trading lower. The Japanese market has shrugged off an early setback and is currently trading with a small loss.

Most of the markets in the region had finished notably higher on Wednesday on strong cues from Wall Street. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose 1.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 5.3 percent

On Wednesday, Wall Street saw some heavy selling as investors chose to take profits amid a mixed report from the housing market and the Treasury Department's auction of $35 billion worth of 5-year notes that attracted moderately strong demand.

The report from the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales rose 2.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised rate of 4.55 million units in March. Economists had expected sales to rise to 4.66 million unit from the 4.57 million originally reported for the previous month.

While the pace of existing home sales increased compared to the previous month, total housing inventories at the end of April represented a 10.2-month supply compared with a 9.6-month supply in March.

The major averages all closed firmly in the red, just off their worst levels of the day. The Dow closed down 173.47 points or 2.1 percent at 8,300.02, the Nasdaq closed down 19.35 points or 1.1 percent at 1,731.08 and the S&P 500 closed down 17.27 points or 1.9 percent at 893.06.

Major European markets posted more modest gains, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index finishing up by 0.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX closed up 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

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