RTTNews - After a few days of aimless trade, the South Korean stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions - putting on more than 35 points or 2.1 percent along the way. The KOSPI reclaimed support at the 1,580-point plateau, and now analysts are predicting a continued trend to the upside when the market kicks off trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive, thanks to better than expected economic news out of the United States. Housing stocks are expected to see strength for a change on Monday, while resource stocks also are tipped higher. The European and U.S. markets saw sharp gains on Friday, and now the Asian markets are forecast to extend those gains.

The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Friday, thanks to gains among the technology stocks and the financials - although weakness among the industrials cut into the upside.

For the day, the index added 4.59 points or 0.3 percent to close at 1,580.98 after trading between 1,564.45 and 1,590.15. Volume was 507.3 million shares worth 8.04 trillion won. There were 513 decliners and 316 gainers, with 58 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the decliners, Doosan Infracore shed 6.9 percent, while Samsung Heavy Industries fell 4.3 percent, Mirae Asset Securities eased 1.3 percent and Samsung Securities was off 2.1 percent.

Bucking the trend, Samsung Electronics jumped 2.3 percent, while Hyundai Motor added 3.1 percent, Hankook Tire gained 2.4 percent, KB Financial Group was up 1.3 percent and Shinhan Financial Group rose 0.5 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is firmly optimistic as stocks saw a notably strong outing on Friday, with early buying interested spearheaded by better than expected existing home sales data and relatively optimistic economic commentary from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The major averages all rose by substantial margins on the day, extending their winning streak for the fourth straight session.

Friday's rally was largely sparked a report from the National Association of Realtors showing that existing home sales increased by much more than expected in the month of July, with the headline figure rising for the fourth consecutive month. Existing home sales rose 7.2 percent to an annual rate of 5.24 million units in July from a 4.89 million unit rate in June. Economists had been expecting a more modest increase to a 5.0 million unit rate. The increase in sales was the largest monthly gain on record for the total existing-home sales series dating back to 1999. With the increase, existing home sales rose for the fourth consecutive month, the first four-month winning streak since June of 2004.

The markets also looked to remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who spoke about the recent financial crisis and the near-term economic outlook at the Kansas City Fed's annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Fed chief said, Economic activity appears to be leveling out, both in the United States and abroad, adding that the prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good. However, Bernanke warned that the recovery might be sluggish at first, with unemployment declining only gradually from high levels.

On the earnings front, Gap Inc. (GPS), Ann Taylor Stores (ANN) and J. M. Smucker Company (SJM) reported earnings that beat Wall Street estimates on the bottom line.

The major averages were rangebound for much of the afternoon, although they reached new highs for the session in the final hour of trading. The Dow closed up by 155.91 points or 1.7 percent at 9,505.96, the NASDAQ climbed by 31.68 points or 1.6 percent to 2,020.90 and the S&P 500 rose by 18.76 points or 1.9 percent to 1,026.13. With the four-day winning streak, the major averages all closed notably higher for the week, ending the session at multi-month closing highs. The Dow advanced by 2 percent, the NASDAQ moved up by 1.8 percent and the S&P 500 posted a gain of 2.2 percent.

In economic news, South Korea's economy is recovering faster than other nations, but there are uncertainties, Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday, quoting Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun.

We are showing signs of easing from the economic downturn earlier than other nations, with our stocks and currency markets stabilizing, Yoon told in an international conference held in central Seoul.

He stated that the recent recovery is driven mainly by aggressive fiscal spending and uncertainties are still lingering at home and abroad. As the economic recovery is not expected to exceed its pre-crisis level, the minster said the government should closely monitor economic developments.

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