RTTNews - The South Korean stock market has alternated positive and negative finishes through the last four sessions, since ending the three-day winning streak in which it gathered more than 100 points or 7.5 percent on its way to a six-month closing high. The KOSPI is close to reclaiming the 1,400-point plateau, but investors are instead bracing for a mild retreat at the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is modestly negative uncertain economic data and corporate news at the end of last week - and investors also figure to be nervous ahead of more corporate results and data this week. The European markets finished last week in mixed fashion with a slight downside bias, while the U.S. markets ended with modest declines - and the Asian markets are predicted to fall right in between the two leads.

The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Friday, thanks to solid gains among the financial stocks. Shipbuilding shares and airlines also ended higher, while the technology sector ended in mixed fashion.

For the day, the index was up 10.78 points or 0.78 percent to close at 1,391.73 after trading between 1,385.83 and 1,399.84. Volume was 677.5 million shares worth 6.64 trillion won, with gainers outnumbering decliners 474 to 341.

Among the gainers, KB Financial Group rose 4.24 percent, while Woori Finance Holdings surged 6.73 percent, Shinhan Financial Group climbed 5.5 percent, Samsung Electronics added 1.93 percent, Korea Exchange Bank moved up 1.57 percent, Hyundai Heavy Industries was up 0.65 percent, LG Electronics moved up 1.84 percent, Kia Motors ended up 0.81 percent, Ssangyong Motor advanced 2.76 percent, Korean Air Line advanced 3.17 percent, Asiana Air Line added 3.15 percent, S-Oil rose 1 percent, KEPCO moved up 3.30 percent and SK Telecom closed up 0.56 percent.

Finishing lower, STX Pan Ocean fell 3.3 percent, while Samsung Heavy Industries slipped 0.69 percent, Daewoo Shipbuilding fell 3.21 percent, Hynix Semiconductor tumbled 3.97 percent, LG Display LCD slipped 0.84 percent, Hyundai Motor closed down 0.78 percent, KT shed 0.94 percent and POSCO slipped 0.12 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is downbeat as stocks ended Friday's trading mostly lower after showing a lack of direction throughout much of the session. The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory after ending the previous session notably higher. Volatility came as traders digested a slew of economic data that added to investor uncertainty about the outlook for the markets. Below average volume also contributed to the choppy trading.

Before the start of trading, the Labor Department said its consumer price index was unchanged in April after edging down by 0.1 percent in March. The lack of growth in consumer prices came in line with the expectations of economists. While energy prices showed another significant decrease, the 2.4 percent drop in energy prices was offset by a 9.3 percent jump in tobacco prices. Food prices slipped 0.2 percent in April after edging down 0.1 percent in March.

The report also showed that the core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.3 percent in April after rising 0.2 percent in each of the three previous months. Economists had expected core prices to edge up 0.1 percent. Additionally, a report from the Federal Reserve showed a slightly smaller than expected 0.5 percent decrease in industrial production in April, while the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index rose to 67.9 in May from 65.1 in the previous month.

On the earnings front, retailer JC Penney (JCP) reported first quarter earnings that edged out analyst estimates, while Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) reported a first quarter loss. In other news, ailing automaker General Motors (GM) said Friday that it has started to notify about 1,100 underperforming and very low sales volume U.S. dealers that they will not be retained on a long-term basis. The move is part of GM's updated viability plan submitted last month under which the automaker plans to reduce its current dealer network of 5,969 stores to about 3,600 by the end of 2010.

The major averages all closed notably lower, although off their worst levels of the day. The Dow closed down 62.68 points or 0.8 percent at 8,268.64, the NASDAQ closed down 9.07 points or 0.5 percent at 1,680.14 and the S&P 500 closed down 10.19 points or 1.1 percent at 882.88. With today's losses, the major averages all closed lower for the week, with the NASDAQ snapping a nine-week winning streak. The NASDAQ fell 3.4 percent for the week, while the Dow and the S&P 500 posted weekly losses of 3.6 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

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