The stock market in South Korea opened lower on Wednesday morning on weaker cues from Wall Street where investors resorted to profit taking after stocks rallied on Monday to post the biggest gain in single trading since October 2008.

On Tuesday, the Dow closed down 115.65 points or 1.5% at 7,660, the Nasdaq closed down 37.34 points or 2.4% at 1,518 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.58 points or 2% at 806.

The benchmark KOSPI Index in South Korea opened lower at 1,216, compared to its previous of 1,222, and is currently trading at 1,213, down 8.36 points, as investors preferred to pause for profit taking.

The local currency, the Won, opened higher against the US greenback at 1383 Won per US$, up from 1,383.50 Won, and is presently quoted at 1,388 Won per US$.

In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $0.53 at $53.45 a barrel, in electronic trading. Light sweet crude oil for May delivery ended $0.18 higher on New York Mercantile Exchange at $53.98, after hitting an intra-day high of $54.20 and a low of $52.45.

Data released by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association revealed that auto exports to Eastern Europe plunged sharply by 70.7% during February 2009 to 11,216 vehicles. The head of the Korea Development Institute, Hyun Oh-seok, stated that the country's economy is presently accumulating energy and might rebound from the second half of the year.

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs has revealed that rules governing investment in domestic stock markets by the country's largest institutional investor, the National Pension Service, has been relaxed. The pension service is now allowed to invest in a range between 10% and 24% of its total assets in domestic markets, as against its previous range between 12% and 22%.

Financial stocks are trading lower. Shinhan Financial Group is down 1.65%, KB Financial, the holding firm of Kookmin Bank, is losing 0.65%, and Woori Finance is declining 0.405.

Among shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries is falling 1.70%, and Daewoo Ship building is down 1.56%. However, Samsung Heavy Industries is edging up 0.19%.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is down 1.25%. In the technology space, while Hynix Semiconductor is down 3.94%, LG Electronics and LG Display are gaining 0.54% and 1.81% respectively.

Oil-related stocks are also trading mixed. While SK Holdings is gaining 3.23%, S-oil is falling 0.51%.

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