The stock market in South Korea opened higher on Monday morning, led by automakers and technology-related stocks, but slipped back to negative territory, on weak cues from the U.S markets which ended lower on Friday as investors resorted to profit taking. Investors await more action from the Governments and central banks to fuel hopes of recovery and sustain the momentum in the markets.

On Friday, the Dow closed down 148.38 points or 1.9% at 7,776.18, the Nasdaq closed down 41.80 points or 2.6% percent at 1,545.20 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.92 points or 2% at 816.

In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $0.93 at $51.45 a barrel, in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed at $52.34 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, down $1.96 a barrel.

The benchmark KOSPI Index in South Korea opened Monday's session higher at 1,240, compared to its previous of 1,238, but slipped into negative territory and is currently trading at 1,225, down 12.34 points, or 1.00%.

The local currency, the Won, opened lower against the US greenback at 1360 Won per US$, down from 1,349 Won, and is currently quoted at 1,379 Won per US$.

The Central Bank of Korea revealed that the current account balance for February 2009 swung to a surplus of US$3.68 billion from a revised deficit of US$1.64 billion in January 2009. The Bank attributed sharp drop in imports during the month as the primary reason for the surplus and expects to report a record surplus for March 2009 as well.

Officials in the Ministry of Strategy & Finance revealed that the national debt in the country is expected to increase to as much as 19% this year, as the Government, in an effort to bolster the economy through extra-budget measures, is planning to issue bonds to fund the extra-budget amount. The total national debt, which was at 308.3 trillion won in last year, is projected to increase to 366.9 trillion Won, or US$269.9 billion, during the current year, the officials noted.

Technology stocks and automakers are the major gainers in the early session.

Hynix Semiconductor is advancing 3.75% and LG Electronis is edging up 0.11%. However, LG Display is trading unchanged from previous close. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is adding 0.17%.

Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor is up 0.18%, and Kia Motor is trading unchanged. However, Ssangyang Motor is losing more than 7%.

Financials are trading weak. While KB Financial Group, the holding firm of Kookmin Bank, is losing 3.59%, Shinhan Financial is down 4.12% and Woori Finance is falling 0.55%.

Shipbuilders are also trading weak, on profit taking. Hyundai Heavy Industries is down 2.86%, Daewoo Ship building is losing 0.55%, and Samsung Heavy Industries is declining 1.86%.

Oil related stocks are trading weaker. S-Oil is down 1.36% and SK Holdings is losing 1.68%.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com