The South Korean stock market displayed a mixed trend today with investors treading a cautious path. Shares of leading automobile makers and ship builders are trading firm while bank, steel and energy stocks are down in the red.

The Korean benchmark KOSPI opened at 1,367 and after edging up marginally in early trade, is trading at 1,362, up nearly 5.47 points over its previous close.

Among auto stocks, Kia Motors is up 3.5%. Ssangyong Motor is trading 5.3% up and Hyundai Motor is trading 2.5% higher than its previous closing price. Shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries is up 4.7%. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Samsung Heavy Industries are up 3.8% and 2% respectively.

Leading bank stocks Korea Exchange Bank, Woori Finance, Shinhan Financial and KB Financial are trading lower by 2% - 3.5% now.

Among technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor and LG Electronics are trading down 1.8% and 0.5% ,respectively while LG Display LCD is up 1.7%.

Airlines and oil stocks are trading mixed. Steel makers Hyundai Steel and POSCO are down by around 2% now. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is up nearly a per cent and energy stock KEPCO is down 0.8%.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong and Australia are trading firm. The Japanese market is down in the red.

Wall Street had some surprises yesterday with AT&T, McDonald's and Yahoo! beating earnings estimates. And there were at least a couple of disappointing report cards as well with Boeing and Morgan Stanley reeling out numbers that fell short of expectations.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner hinted that policymakers might be forced to alter their recovery strategies as the global financial crisis drags on. He explained that the revised estimate from the International Monetary Fund for global growth could spark a change in policy. The IMF lowered its 2009 outlook, now predicating a contraction of 1.3 percent for the year compared to its previous estimate of 0.5 percent growth.

We may have to adapt our policies further as conditions evolve, and we need to make sure we provide a scale of support that matches the intensity of the challenge, Geithner said.

While Dow ended lower by 83 points, the Nasdaq composite index edged up marginally. The S&P 500 closed with a small loss.

Crude oil reversed early declines and after trading flat for a major part of the session, ended marginally higher at $48.98 a barrel.

Once again, corporate earnings will be eyed with some big firms including Marriott International, Hershey and UPS reporting today. From the economic front, the weekly jobless claims data and existing home sales numbers will give direction to the market.

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