RTTNews - The South Korean stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions, gathering more than 30 points or 1.9 percent on its way to a fresh 11-month closing high. The KOSPI is closing on the 1,560-point plateau, although analysts are not sanguine about the market's chances of breaking through that level at the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets offers little in the way of guidance as commodities and financials are tipped to continue to rise, but weakness among the technology shares could erase those gains. The European and U.S. markets finished in mixed fashion, although not too far from the unchanged line in either direction - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow that lead.

The KOSPI finished sharply higher on Friday, boosted by some better than expected economic data. Financials and technology stocks led the gainers, while industrials and automobile stocks also ticked higher.

For the day, the index jumped 22.55 points or 1.5 percent to close at 1,557.29 after trading between 1,536.86 and 1,559.07. Volume was moderate at 458 million shares worth 7.17 trillion won, with gainers outpacing losers 517 to 288.

Among the gainers, Ssangyong Motor jumped by the daily limit of 15 percent, while Samsung Electronics was up 1.4 percent, POSCO added 4 percent, Samsung Securities surged 4.5 percent, Daewoo Securities climbed 3.7 percent, LG Chem surged 10.1 percent, Asiana Airlines added 2.8 percent, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering gained 2.1 percent and Hankook Tire was up 5.6 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is inconclusive as stocks finished Friday's session on a mixed note after a shaky start prompted by gross domestic product figures for the second quarter. The major averages closed on opposite sides of the unchanged mark amid another session that was marred by low volume, typical of the summer.

Early trading was swayed by an advance report on second quarter gross domestic product from the Commerce Department. While the report revealed that the U.S. economy continued to shrink by a slower than expected margin, trader concern grew as consumer consumption came in far lower than expected. According to the data, gross domestic product fell at a pace of 1 percent for the second quarter after economists had expected GDP to fall at a rate of 1.5 percent. Some pessimism was generated by the personal consumption figure in the report, which showed a decrease of 1.2 percent, significantly more than economists had been expecting. This followed a 0.6 percent increase in the first quarter.

Later in the morning, traders largely shrugged off the Institute of Supply Management-Chicago's manufacturing index for July, which came in slightly higher than expected at 43.4. Economists expected the business barometer index to come in at 43 after rising by 5 points to 39.9 in June.

With earnings season drawing to a close, Disney (DIS) and Monster Worldwide (MWW) reported earnings that beat forecasts, while oil giant Chevron (CVX) disappointed. The season's earnings results largely beat expectations, but for the most part due to cost cutting measures rather than revenue growth in a market constricted by the recession.

After hovering in positive territory throughout much of the trading session, the major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The tech heavy NASDAQ fell by 5.80 points or 0.3 percent to 1,978.50, while the Dow closed up by 17.15 points or 0.2 percent at 9,171.61 and the S&P 500 rose 0.73 points or 0.1 percent to 987.48. Despite the mixed performance for the session, the major averages all closed higher for the week due largely to Thursday's rally. The Dow rose 0.9 percent for the week, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

In economic news, South Korea's exports declined 20.1 percent in July from a year earlier, following a revised 12.4 percent drop in June, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said on Saturday. Meanwhile, imports were down 35.8 percent. Exports totaled US$32.7 billion and imports stood at US$27.6 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$5.14 billion in July.

Also, the National Statistical Office said on Friday that industrial production in South Korea declined 1.2 percent in June from a year earlier. However, this was much slower than the 9 percent decrease seen in May and a 5.8 percent fall expected by economists. On a monthly basis, production grew 5.7 percent in June compared to a 1.5 percent rise in May and 2.6 percent in April.

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