RTTNews - The South Korean market is trading firm on Thursday with the mood remaining positive following the overnight surge on Wall Street where stock prices had rallied sharply on the back of some encouraging earnings reports and economic data.

Bank, steel and shipbuilding stocks are trading firm. Oil stocks are also seen exhibiting a firm trend. Technology stocks and telecom stocks are trading mixed.

The Korean benchmark index KOSPI, which moved on to 1,442.10 earlier in the day, is currently trading at 1,437 up by around 16 points or 1.12%. On Wednesday, aided by strong gains in financials and technology stocks, the KOSPI had ended up 35.30 points or 2.5% at 1,420.86.

In the banking space, Korea Exchange Bank is currently up by about 1%, while Shinhan Financial and KB Financial are trading higher by over 2%. However, Woori Finance is down in negative territory with a modest loss.

Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are up by 0.6% and 1.3% respectively. Among shipbuilders, Samsung Heavy Industries is up by over 6%, Daewoo Shipbuilding is gaining 5% and Hyundai Heavy Industries, which remains a bit subdued, is up with a modest gain. Bulk carrier STX Pan Ocean is trading 2% up.

Energy stock KEPCO is up 0.6%. Oil majors SK Holdings and S-Oil are trading higher by 0.4% and 0.8% respectively. In the automobile space, Hyundai Motor is up 2.6% and Kia Motor is trading modestly higher. Ssangyong Motor is down with a loss of 1.4%.

Among technology stocks, Samsung Electronics, LG Display LCD and Hynix Semiconductor are up by 0.5%-1% while LG Electronics is trading weak. Airliners Korea Airlines and Asiana Airlines are trading firm with notable gains.

Other markets in the Asia-Pacific region are mostly up with sharp gains. The benchmark indices of Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan are up by 1.5% - 2.25%. New Zealand's NZX 50 is up by over 1%. The Shanghai market, however, has pared its gains and is currently trading flat. Stock markets across the region had extended their gains on Wednesday on recovery hopes.

On Wall Street, besides better-than expected results from Intel Corp. and Yum! Brands, the Federal Reserve's announcement that it expects a less severe economic contraction in 2009 and a moderately stronger recovery in 2010 proved strong enough triggers for traders to stay bullish during the session.

The Dow closed up by 256.72 points or 3.1% at 8,616.21, the Nasdaq climbed 63.17 points or 3.5% to 1,862.90, and the S&P 500 rose 26.84 points or 3% to 932.68.

Major European markets closed on the upside for the third session in a row, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index closing up by 3.1% and 2.9% respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index also moved higher, climbing by 2.6%.

Crude oil rose above US$61 per barrel on Wednesday, boosted by a larger-than-expected decline in crude oil inventories last week. Violence in Nigeria and a weaker dollar also lifted prices. Light sweet crude for August delivery posted its best close in a week at US$61.54 per barrel, up US$2.02 for the day. Oil briefly touched as high as US$62.

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