RTTNews - The South Korean stock market finished lower by just a handful of points on Monday, but that was enough to extend the market's losing streak to three sessions - costing it 33 points or 2.3 percent along the way. The KOSPI continues to cling to support at 1,400 points, and now investors are bracing for the market to slip below that level of support at the opening of trade on Tuesday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets offers little in the way of guidance as both the U.S. and United Kingdom markets were off Monday on holiday. Investors are likely to be spooked by the nuclear test conducted by North Korea and the worldwide condemnation that followed it, ratcheting up international tensions. The economic and corporate sectors provide no clear leads, so the Asian markets are expected to see little movement in thin trade.

The KOSPI finished barely lower on Monday, recovering from a 6 percent plummet following the news of North Korea's nuclear test. Sharp losses in the technology sector were largely offset by gains among the automobile stocks and the telecoms.

For the day, the index eased 2.85 points or 0.2 percent to close at 1,400.90 after trading between 1,315.21 and 1,414.14. Volume was 817.8 million shares worth 8.53 trillion won, while there were 561 decliners and 292 gainers.

Among the actives, Samsung Electronics shed 0.91 percent, while Ssangyong Motor jumped 8.75 percent, SK Telecom gained 1.98 percent, Kia Motors added 5.37 percent and LG Electronics fell 1.35 percent.

The U.S .markets were closed on Monday in observance of Memorial Day, but many of the European markets rose for the first time in three days as a rally among pharmaceutical stocks overshadowed a report that showed German business confidence rose less than expected in May.

A monthly survey conducted by the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research showed that German business confidence improved to 84.2 in May from 83.7 in April. However, the indicator stood below the expected reading of 85.

Crude for July delivery fell $0.62 to $61.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, by the time the European markets closed, as investors eyed an OPEC meeting this week and weighed evidence of a global economic recovery.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.20 percent higher at 857.71 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 0.31 percent to 2,100.72 points. Around Europe, France's CAC 40 index rose 0.25 percent to 3,236.16, while Germany's DAX index fell 0.01 percent to 4,918.45. The U.K. market was closed for a holiday.

Sanofi-Aventis, France's biggest drug maker, surged up 1.6 percent after the company received a $190 million order for swine flu vaccine from the U.S. government. Swiss drug maker Roche climbed 1.6 percent after the company said its Mircera treatment helped anemia patients with chronic kidney disease in a study. Acciona jumped 2.5 percent after Celebi Hava Servisi, a Turkish provider of airport services, agreed to buy its ground-handling companies in Spain and Germany.

On the other hand, sports car maker Porsches slipped 3.1 percent after the company confirmed media reports that it received a ?700 million loan from Volkswagen to help with its finances. Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank, fell 1 percent after the country's financial regulator started a probe into potential violations the company uncovered in its corporate security department.

In economic news, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday that the pace of increase in South Korea's unemployment this year would be the slowest among advanced economies. According to the IMF, South Korea's jobless rate would rise to 3.8 percent in 2009 from 3.2 percent in 2008. The 0.6 percent increase in the rate is the weakest among 33 advanced economies. In April, the country's rate of unemployment edged down to 3.8 percent from 4 percent in March.

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