RTTNews - The South Korean stock market alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last four sessions following the three-day winning streak that saw it put on nearly 70 points or 4 percent. The KOSPI moved back above the 1,600-point plateau, and now analysts are expecting the market to hold steady around that level at the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian bourses is virtually flat after the markets finished generally higher last week. Tobacco, trucking and health care stocks are expected to fall under pressure, with perhaps a bit of support coming from the gold miners and other commodities. The European markets finished firmly in positive territory, while the U.S. bourses ended little changed - and the Asian markets are tipped to follow that latter lead.

The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Friday, boosted by gains among the automobile producers and the technology stocks.

For the day, the index put on 8.61 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 1,607.94 after trading between 1,599.68 and 1,616.29.

Among the gainers, Hyundai Motor added 2.5 percent, while LG Electronics gained 4.7 percent, Hynix Semiconductor was up 2.4 percent, Hyundai Mobis surged 8.5 percent, LG Chem was up 6.4 percent and Hyundai Steel added 4 percent.

The lead from Wall Street offers little guidance as stocks turned in a lackluster performance over the course of the trading day on Friday after failing to sustain an early upward move. The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the tech-heavy NASDAQ closing modestly higher.

The initial strength in the markets came as traders reacted to positive news from the tech sector, with computer maker Dell (DELL) reporting better than expected quarterly results and semiconductor giant Intel (INTC) raising its third quarter guidance. Nonetheless, buying interest waned not long after the opening bell.

Traders largely shrugged off the day's economic data, including a report from Reuters and the University of Michigan that showed their final consumer sentiment index reading for August came in at 65.7 compared to the mid-month reading of 63.2. The revised index came in well above economist estimates of 64.0 but still below July's 66.0.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said that personal income was nearly unchanged in July following a revised decrease of 1.1 percent in June. Economists had expected income to increase by 0.1 percent compared to the 1.3 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.

The report also showed that personal spending rose 0.2 percent in July compared to an upwardly revised 0.6 percent increase in the previous month. The modest increase came in line with economist estimates. With income unchanged and spending rising, personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income fell to 4.2 percent in July compared with 4.5 percent in June.

While the NASDAQ managed to end the session just above the unchanged line, the Dow and the S&P 500 posted modest losses. The NASDAQ closed up by 1.04 points or 0.1 percent at 2,028.77, while the Dow fell by 36.43 points or 0.4 percent to 9,544.20 and the S&P 500 dipped by 2.05 points or 0.2 percent to 1,028.93. Despite the mixed performance on the session, the major averages all closed modestly higher for the week. The Dow and the NASDAQ both rose 0.4 percent for the week, while the S&P 500 posted a weekly gain of 0.3 percent.

In economic news, South Korea will on Monday announce July figures for industrial output and leading index. Output is expected to decline 1.1 percent on year after falling 1.2 percent on year in June. The leading index posted a score of 6 in the previous month.

Also, South Korea's current account balance showed surplus for the sixth straight month in July, the Bank of Korea reported on Friday. However, the surplus declined to US$4.4 billion in July from US$5.43 billion last month.

The goods balance recorded a surplus of US$6.17 billion in July, smaller than June's US$6.61 billion surplus. Meanwhile, the deficit in the service account totaled US$1.89 billion, up from US$1.45 billion shortfall in the prior month. The capital account showed a net inflow of US$2.38 billion in July versus a net outflow of US$290.5 million in June.

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