RTTNews - The South Korean stock market has finished lower in two of three trading days since the end of the three-day winning streak that saw it put on nearly 70 points or 4 percent. Falling from a fresh 13-month closing high, the KOSPI now rests just below the 1,600-point plateau, although investors are hopeful that the market can climb back above that level at the opening of trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic, with gains expected among the technology stocks, gold miners and financial shares - although selling pressure among biotechnology and airlines stocks are likely to cut into the overall upside. The European markets ended with modest losses, while the U.S. markets tracked slightly to the upside - and now the Asian markets are projected to stay close to the unchanged line with a slight upside bias.

The KOSPI finished modestly lower on Thursday, in line with other regional bourses. Automobile producers were a key drag on the index, while financial stocks and technology shares also ended lower.

For the day, the index declined 14.79 points or 0.9 percent to finish at 1599.33 after trading between 1,590.98 and 1,614.07.

Among the decliners, Shinhan Financial Group fell 2.2 percent, while Woori Finance Holdings shed 4.5 percent, Samsung Electronics dropped 1.3 percent, Hyundai Motor lost 1.9 percent and Korea Electric Power Corp. was down 1.1 percent.

Finishing higher, Doosan Infracore surged 6.7 percent, while Doosan Heavy Industries added 1.7 percent and Hyundai Heavy Industries gained 1.3 percent.

Wall Street offers a lead that is mildly positive as stocks staged a steady recovery and finished with modest gains on Thursday, following an initial retreat on the heels of relatively uneventful economic reports. The major averages all closed in positive territory, but the upside was limited by another low volume session.

Earlier, traders focused on a fresh batch of economic reports, with the Commerce Department revealing that second quarter GDP decreased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the second quarter, unchanged from the 1.0 percent decrease initially reported. Economists had been expecting GDP to be revised to show a decrease of 1.5 percent. The Commerce Department said upward revisions to exports, residential fixed investment, consumer spending, and government spending were offset by downward revisions to private inventory investment and nonresidential fixed investment.

Separately, the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits edged down last week, according to a report released by the Labor Department, although jobless claims remain at a relatively high level. The report showed that jobless claims edged down to 570,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 580,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to slip to 565,000 from the 576,000 originally reported for the previous month. Continuing claims, which measure the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment help, fell to 6.133 million for the week ended August 15, the most recent week for which the government has data.

A variety of sectors turned higher after moving lower earlier in the session, contributing to the recovery by the broader markets. Nonetheless, stocks were unable to sustain the upward move amid some uncertainty about the economic outlook.

The major averages moved off of their highs in late session dealing, but they were able to hold onto modest gains. The Dow advanced by 37.11 points or 0.4 percent to 9,580.63, the NASDAQ gained 3.30 points or 0.2 percent to close at 2,027.73 and the S&P 500 rose by 2.86 points or 0.3 percent to 1,030.98.

In economic news, South Korea will on Friday announce current account numbers for July, with analysts expecting a surplus of $4.2 billion. That's down from $5.4306 billion in June.

Also, South Korean manufacturers' expectation index climbed to 93 in September from 80 in the previous month, the Bank of Korea said on Thursday - the highest in nearly two years. Consumer confidence has also shown improvement in recent months. In August, consumer confidence rose for the fifth consecutive month and to its highest level in seven years, with the confidence index climbing to 114 from 109 in July.

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