RTTNews - The Korean benchmark index KOSPI is having a choppy ride on Wednesday with participants treading a cautious path and staying wary of holding stocks at higher levels.

After an early surge into positive territory, the KOSPI fell into the red in early morning trading and despite bouncing back sharply around mid morning, is currently seen struggling to hold gains due to fairly heavy selling in some technology and bank stocks.

At 1,486, the KOSPI is down by around 3 points. Earlier, after moving on to 1,497, the index had eased to 1,485. On Tuesday, the benchmark had ended up 10.48 points or 0.7% at 1489.

Among automobile stocks, Kia Motor is down by 2.2%. while Ssangyong Motors and Hyundai Motors are trading higher by 0.6% and 1%, respectively.

In the technology space, Hynix Semiconductor and heavyweight Samsung Electronics are trading lower by 2% and 1.7%, respectively. LG Electronics is up by 2.4%, while LG Display LCD is trading with a modest gain.

Among bank stocks, Shinhan Financial and Woori Finance are down by 2.2% and 1.1%, respectively. KB Financial is trading flat while Korea Exchange Bank is up by 1.5%.

Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are up by 1% and 2.7%, respectively. Oil stocks SK Holdings and S-Oil are trading firm. While SK Holdings is gaining about 2%, S-Oil is up with a modest 0.3% gain. Energy stock KEPCO is up by around 2.5%.

Telecom stocks are trading modestly higher. In the shipbuilding space, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding are trading higher by 1.4% and 0.7%, respectively, while Hyundai Heavy Industries is down by a percent. Hyundai Heavy Industries is reportedly planning to work with U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Corp to build and sell vessels with aegis system.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan are trading firm with their key indices gaining between 0.5% - 1.3%. The Japanese market was up modestly at the end of the morning session. The Indonesian market is trading flat. Stock markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While Japan's benchmark Nikkei posted a 2.7% gain, China's Shanghai Composite index fell 1.6%.

On Wall Street, stocks ended on a firm note on Tuesday with a slew of promising earnings reports keeping the mood positive. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke stated that the U.S. economy is showing signs of stabilization and that the stimulus authorities pumped into the global economy late last year probably helped to avoid a collapse of the financial system. However, he has cautioned that the economy is still in a fragile state, with unemployment high and consumer spending shaky.

The Dow advanced 67.79 points or 0.8% to 8,916, the Nasdaq climbed 6.91 points or 0.4% to 1,916 and the S&P 500 rose 3.45 points or 0.4% to 955.

Major European markets all closed the day showing strong gains, with the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index finishing up by 1.3% and 1%, respectively. U.K.'s FTSE 100 index saw a 0.9% surge.

Crude oil gained for the fifth session in a row and finished at its highest level in almost three weeks on Tuesday. Investors looked ahead to the government's inventory report on Wednesday. Light sweet crude for August delivery settled at US$64.72, up 74 cents on the session. The August contract closed at the end of the session. The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Tuesday, although the gains were dented in the afternoon by profit taking from the current streak. Automobile producers led the gainers, while other industrial issues also finished higher.

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