RTTNews - The South Korean stock market has finished lower now in four straight sessions, giving up more than 55 points or 3.8 percent in the process. The KOSPI fell through support at 1,380 points, although investors are optimistic that the market could see the beginning of a rebound at the opening of trade on Friday.

The Asian markets draw a mildly positive lead from the global forecast as several of the regional bourses have been oversold in recent sessions - the financials in particular. Some better than expected economic data out of the United States is likely to add to the positive sentiment. The European markets ended broadly higher, while the U.S. bourses also finished with mostly modest gains - and the Asian markets are also pegged to move higher.

The KOSPI finished sharply lower again on Thursday, dragged lower by weakness among the technology and industrial stocks - although the losses were trimmed by profit taking among the financials.

For the day, the index dropped 15.41 points or 1.1 percent to close at 1,375.76 after trading between 1,371.38 and 1,396.75. Volume was 490.9 million shares worth 4.39 trillion won, with 498 decliners and 295 gainers.

Among the decliners, POSCO dropped 2.4 percent, while Hyundai Steel eased 1.0 percent, Samsung Electronics fell 1.7 percent, LG Electronics plunged 4.2 percent, KT slid 1.7 percent, SK Telecom dropped 3.0 percent and SK Chemicals Co. added 0.4 percent. Bucking the trend, Hyundai Marine and Fire Insurance jumped 3.4 percent.

Wall Street offers a cautiously optimistic lead as stocks finished largely on the upside Thursday after trading in a range for most of the session. While the tech-heavy NASDAQ closed nearly flat, the Dow and the S&P 500 posted notable gains as traders reacted to some encouraging economic data.

Some buying interest was generated by the release of a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showing that the pace of contraction in the mid-Atlantic region's manufacturing slowed by much more than economists had been anticipating. The Philly Fed said its index of activity in the manufacturing sector rose to a negative 2.2 in June from a negative 22.6 in May, although a negative reading still indicates a contraction. Economists had been expecting a much more modest increase to a reading of negative 17.0.

Separately, a report from the Conference Board showed that its leading indicators index rose 1.2 percent in May following an upwardly revised 1.1 percent increase in April. Economists had expected the index to increase by 1.0 percent, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

While employment data from the Labor Department showed an increase in weekly jobless claims, some optimism was generated by a drop in continuing claims, which fell by 148,000 in the week ended June 6th to 6.687 million. This marked the first drop in continuing claims since the week ended January 3rd.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee expressed skepticism about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's proposal to set up the Federal Reserve as the primary regulator of risks to the entire financial system. Geithner responded by pointing out that central banks around the world generally have the authority to set monetary policy and to deal with the stability of financial systems.

After closing lower in the three previous sessions, the Dow closed up 58.42 points or 0.7 percent at 8,555.60 and the S&P 500 closed up 7.66 points or 0.8 percent at 918.37. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ underperformed throughout the session and closed down 0.34 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 1,807.72.

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