The stock market in South Korea opened strongly on Wednesday morning, taking cues from the U.S. markets where the major averages ended higher on the last trading day of the first quarter on bargain hunting by investors at lower prices. Positive economic data on the domestic front also lifted the sentiment.

On Tuesday, the Dow closed up 86.90 points or 1.2% at 7,609, the Nasdaq closed up 26.79 points or 1.8% at 1,529 and the S&P 500 closed up 10.34 points or 1.3% at 798.

In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $1.24 at $48.42 a barrel, in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed at $49.66 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday, up $1.25 a barrel, after hitting an intraday high of $50.00 and a low of $47.77, amid weaker U.S. dollar, as traders await the weekly inventory report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The benchmark KOSPI Index in South Korea opened Tuesday's session higher at 1,214, compared to its previous of 1,206, and is currently trading at 1,237, up 30.34 points, or 2.51%. Automakers and financials are leading the gains in the market.

The local currency, the Won, opened higher against the US greenback at 1370 Won per US$, down from 1,383.50 Won, and is currently quoted at 1,360 Won per US$.

Manufacturers' sentiment rose for the second quarter of 2009 rose amid expectations that the economy will stabilize in the country. According to a report released by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, business survey index (BSI) for manufacturing companies rose to 95 for the second quarter, compared to 61 in the first quarter.

In another report, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy revealed that trade surplus for March 2009 reached a record US$4.6 billion, attributing sharp decline in imports and increase in number of ships exported as the primary reason. The report noted that exports declined 21.2% to US$28.3 billion, and imports were down 36% to $23.7 billion

Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor is gaining 6.31%, Kia Motor is advancing 5.04% and Ssangyong Motor is edging up 0.42%

Financials are also trading higher. KB Financial Group, the holding firm of Kookmin Bank, is moving up 4.40%, Shinhan Financial is advancing 3.66% and Woori Finance is gaining 4.99%.

Shipbuilders are trading mixed. Hyundai Heavy Industries is gaining 1.79%, and Samsung Heavy Industries is advancing 1.56%. However, Daewoo Shipping is down 0.47%

Oil-related stocks are moving to the upside. SK Holdings is gaining 2.79% and S-Oil is rising 1.60%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is moving up 1.23%.

Technology stocks are trading mixed. While LG Electronics is advancing 3.50%, and LG Display is gaining 1.96%, Hynix Semiconductor is losing 3.64%.

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