RTTNews - The South Korean stock market finished lower by less than a point, but that was enough to extend its losing streak to two sessions while costing it just 3 points or 0.2 percent in the process. The KOSPI is holding support at the 1,430-point plateau, and investors are cautiously optimistic about adding to its totals by the opening of trade on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets calls for little change, continuing the trend that has been largely pervasive all week as investors take a wait-and-see attitude as corporate earnings season continues to unfold. A mild recovery among the commodities spurred the European markets to a higher finish, while the U.S. bourses ended right near the unchanged line - and the Asian markets are expected to move slightly to the upside.
The KOSPI finished virtually flat on Thursday, as gains among the financials and airlines were wiped out by profit taking among the technology issues. For the day, the index eased 0.13 points or 0.01 percent to close at 1,430.89 after trading between 1,426.41 and 1,443.81.
Among the gainers, KB Financial Group surged 3.39 percent, while Woori Finance Holdings added 2.64 percent, Samsung Securities gained 2.8 percent, Woori Investment & Securities was up 2.5 percent, Korean Air Line was 0.84 percent higher, Asiana Airlines added 0.67 percent and KT Corp jumped 1.76 percent. Finishing lower, Samsung Electronics shed 0.76 percent and Hynix Semiconductor eased 0.32 percent.
Wall Street offers little guidance with a virtually flat lead with a touch of upside as stocks saw choppy trading over the course of Thursday's session, finishing up by modest margins following some encouraging employment data. The major averages all closed on the upside but were once again limited by low volume characteristic of the summer season. Trading has been relatively subdued in recent weeks, with traders staying on the sidelines as economists forecast that the economy will see a recovery near the end of the calendar year.
The day's buying interest was largely generated by a report from the Labor Department showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits decreased substantially in the week ended July 4. The report showed that jobless claims fell to 565,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 617,000. Economists had been expecting a more modest decrease to 603,000 from the 614,000 originally reported for the previous week. With the bigger than expected decrease, weekly jobless claims fell below the 600,000 level for the first time since January.
However, the report also showed that continuing claims, which measure the number of people continuing to claim unemployment benefits, rose to 6.883 million in the week ended June 27. The increase lifted continuing claims to a new record high.
Traders largely shrugged off May wholesale trade data from the Commerce Department, which showed that wholesale inventories fell by less than economists had been expecting. The report also showed a modest increase in wholesale sales.
Dow component Alcoa (AA) unofficially kicked off the start of the earnings season after the closing bell yesterday, reporting at narrower loss than Wall Street analysts had been expecting.
While the Dow bounced back and forth across the unchanged line going into the close, the blue chip index managed to end the session up by 4.76 points or 0.1 percent at 8,183.17, the NASDAQ rose by 5.38 points or 0.3 percent to 1,752.55 and the S&P 500 finished up by 3.12 points or 0.4 percent at 882.68.
In economic news, the Bank of Korea on Thursday decided to keep interest rates on hold, maintaining the record low of 2.00 percent for the sixth straight meeting, and in line with expectations. Before also holding rates at the March 12 and April 9 meetings, the bank had trimmed rates by 50 basis points to 2 percent on February 12, marking the sixth rate cut in the previous four months.
The BoK had pared rates by 25 basis points on October 9 and then slashed them again by 75 basis points in an emergency meeting on October 27. Then on December 11, the bank slashed rates by another 100 basis points in the largest rate cut in the bank's history - since it started adopting a benchmark interest rate in 1999. On January 9, the bank trimmed rates by 50 basis points to 2.50 percent.
Before raising rates in August to combat inflation, the board had left interest rates at 5.00 percent for 11 straight meetings.
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