The South Korean stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions, adding nearly 75 points or 2.3 percent along the way. The KOSPI broke through resistance at 1,340 points intraday before ending shy of that figure - and now analysts expect the market to again move within a narrow range of trade on Tuesday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed, since several bourses around the world have been closed in the wake of the Easter holiday and have to play some catch-up. Uninspired corporate earnings news continues to weigh on investors, although there remains some optimism over the impending recovery of the global economy. The European markets were mostly closed, while the U.S. markets were mixed flat - and the Asian bourses are projected to also remain close to the unchanged line.
The KOSPI finished slightly higher on Monday, boosted by gains among the automakers and shipbuilders - although some profit taking limited the gains, especially among the technology stocks and oil issues.
For the day, the index added 2.22 points or 0.17 percent to close at 1,338.28 after trading between 1,328.99 and 1,353.27. Volume was 807.5 million shares worth 8.1 trillion won. There were 577 gainers and 262 decliners, with 46 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the gainers, Hyundai Motor gained 2.16 percent, while Kia Motor advanced 4.75 percent, Ssangyong Motor rose 6.41 percent, Hyundai Heavy Industries added 0.96 percent, Daewoo Shipping advanced 4.26 percent, Samsung Heavy Industries gained 4.10 percent, KB Financial Group gained 2.49 percent and Woori Finance edged up 0.40 percent.
Bucking the trend, Hynix Semiconductor was down 0.74 percent, while LG Electronics slipped 0.71 percent, LG Display was down 0.78 percent, Samsung Electronics fell 3.32 percent, S-Oil lost 1.21 percent and SK Holdings fell 2.18 percent.
Wall Street offers a fairly flat lead as stocks staged a notable recovery attempt over the course of the afternoon after seeing considerable weakness in morning trading on Monday. The major averages moved well off their worst levels of the day, eventually ending the session mixed. The early weakness came as traders cashed in on recent gains amid some uncertainty about the impending earnings season, with financial giants Citigroup (C), JP Morgan (JPM), and Goldman Sachs (GS) among the companies that are due to release their quarterly results this week.
Boeing (BA) contributed to the anxiety about the outlook for earnings, with the aerospace giant saying that its first quarter earnings would be negatively impacted by decisions to reduce airplane production as well as unfavorable price escalation.
Some selling pressure was also generated by a report from the New York Times that said the Treasury Department is directing General Motors (GM) to prepare for a bankruptcy filing by June 1. The report specified that one plan under consideration would create a new company that would buy the good assets of the company almost immediately after the carmaker files for bankruptcy.
Nonetheless, the late day recovery was due in part to news that the Obama administration plans to ease certain restrictions on transactions with Cuba, including allowing U.S. telecom companies to apply for licenses in the island nation. Some buying interest was also generated by an announcement that President Barack Obama will deliver a major speech on the economy at Georgetown University on Tuesday.
The White House said that the president would discuss how each step his administration has taken to confront this economic crisis fits within his broader vision of how we move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.
Earlier in the day, President Obama marked the 2,000th transportation project to be approved under the $787 billion economic relief package. The government effort is coming in ahead of schedule and under budget, Obama announced, praising the efforts of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Joe Biden.
While the major averages all moved into positive territory in late day trading, the Dow slipped back into the red going into the close. The Dow closed down 25.57 points or 0.3 percent at 8,057.81, while the NASDAQ closed up 0.77 points or 0.1 percent at 1,653.31 and the S&P 500 closed up 2.17 points or 0.3 percent at 858.73.
In economic news, the Bank of Korea said on Monday that spending on private education during the year 2008 increased 7.6 percent despite weaker financial and economic conditions in the country. According to the report, parents in South Korea spent 18.72 trillion won, equivalent to $14 billion, during 2008, 7.6 percent more than the earlier year.
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