The stock market in South Korea ended marginally higher on Monday morning, led by automakers and shipbuilders on expectations of a revival in the global economy. Profit taking limited the gains, as investors were cautiously optimistic about earnings from U.S. companies. The markets in the U.S. and Europe were closed for a holiday on Friday.

On Thursday, the major indices on Wall Street surged up more than 3% following positive quarterly results from Wells Fargo, raising hopes that that the financials were not a lost cause. Additionally, some better-than-expected economic data contributed to the improved sentiment. The Dow closed up 246.27 points or 3.14% at 8,083, the Nasdaq closed up 61.88 points or 3.89% at 1,653 and the S&P 500 closed up 31.40 points or 3.81% at 857.

In Asian trading, crude oil ended lower by $0.75 at $51.49 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery rose about 6% or $2.86 to $52.24 a barrel on Thursday following better-than-expected results from retailers suggesting a possible rise in consumer spending.

The benchmark KOSPI Index, having opened Monday's session at 1,342, higher than its previous close of 1,336, traded in a narrow range amid volatile trading before finally closing higher by 2.22 points or 0.17% at 1,338.

On the economic front, a report released by Bank of Korea revealed that spending on private education during the year 2008 increased 7.6% despite weaker financial and economic conditions in the country. According to the report, parents in South Korea spent 18.72 trillion won, equivalent to $14 billion, during 2008, 7.6% more than the earlier year.

Automakers, shipbuilders and financials gained, while technology and oil stocks ended in negative territory.

Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor gained 2.16%, Kia Motor advanced 4.75% and Ssangyong Motor rose 6.41%. Among the shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries added 0.96%, Daewoo Shipping advanced 4.26%, and Samsung Heavy Industries gained 4.10%.

In the financial space, KB Financial Group gained 2.49%, Shinhan Financial remained unchanged from previous close, and Woori Finance edged up 0.40%.

Technology stocks ended lower on profit taking. Hynix Semiconductor edged down 0.74%, LG Electronics slipped 0.71%, and LG Display is down 0.78%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 3.32%.

Among oil-related stocks, S-Oil lost 1.21% and SK Holdings fell 2.18%.

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