RTTNews - The South Korean stock market on Wednesday emphatically halted the two-day losing streak that had cost it 23 points or 1.6 percent in the process. The KOSPI has regained the 1,400-point plateau, although analysts predict that the market could test that level of support at the opening of trade on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mildly negative as stocks could see a bit of a correction following major gains in the previous session. Mixed economic data and corporate news does little to reinforce sentiment - although the auto stocks could be in focus after Chrysler finalized its deal with Fiat. Commodities also may provide support. The European markets ended sharply higher, while the U.S. markets ended slightly in the red - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow the latter lead.
The KOSPI finished sharply higher on Wednesday, thanks to significant gains among the financials, technology shares and retailers. For the day, the index surged 43.04 points or 3.1 percent to close at the daily high of 1,414.88 after falling as low as 1,376.46 earlier in the session.
Among the gainers, Samsung Electronics climbed 3.9 percent, while LG Electronics added 5.7 percent, Hyundai Motor gained 6.3 percent, KB Financial Group was up 6.4 percent, Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance added 5 percent, Shinsegae advanced 6.6 percent, Lotte Shopping added 7 percent, Hyundai Department Store jumped 9.4 percent and POSCO gained 3.3 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is modestly negative as stocks showed a notable downturn following a strong start on Wednesday amid waning buying interest and disappointing results from a 10-year note auction. Nonetheless, the major averages were able to finish only slightly lower, as some traders picked up stocks at reduced prices later in the session.
The Treasury Department's auction of $19.0 billion worth of ten-year notes drew a higher than expected yield of 3.99 percent, raising concerns about the outlook for interest rates. At the same time, the bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, rose to 2.62 from 2.47 during the previous ten-year note auction in May. The bond market has been in focus recently, as traders have expressed concerns that interest rates have continued to rise despite the Federal Reserve's efforts to keep rates low through quantitative easing.
On the economic front, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report indicated that conditions remained weak or deteriorated further during the period from mid-April through May. However, five of the twelve Fed districts noted a moderation in the downward trend, mitigating some market pessimism. While the Beige Book also said that contacts from several Fed districts indicated an improvement in their expectations, they do not see a substantial increase in economic activity through the end of the year.
Separately, a report from the Commerce Department showed that the U.S. trade deficit for the month of April came in modestly wider than in March, as the value of exports fell by more than the value of imports. The report showed that the trade deficit widened to $29.2 billion in April from a revised $28.5 billion in March. Economists had expected the deficit to widen to $29.0 billion from the $27.6 billion originally reported for the previous month.
In corporate news, the Supreme Court allowed the sale of Chrysler's assets to Italian automaker Fiat to move forward. In lifting a stay on the sale, the high court rejected a move by a group of plaintiffs, including three Indiana public pension organizations, to block the sale. Chrysler and Fiat have since closed their deal on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said it has subpoenaed the Federal Reserve for documents, including e-mails to and from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, to explore the genesis of Bank of America's December purchase of Merrill Lynch. On Thursday, the committee will host Ken Lewis, former Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America, as part of a growing investigation into whether government officials pressured the bank to withhold details about the deal from investors despite ballooning losses at the brokerage firm.
The major indices pared some of their losses late in the session but remained stuck in the red. The Dow closed down 24.04 points or 0.3 percent at 8,739.02, the NASDAQ closed down 7.05 points or 0.4 percent at 1,853.08 and the S&P 500 closed down 3.28 points or 0.3 percent at 939.15.
In economic news, South Korea is on Thursday due to announce its decision on interest rates, with analysts expecting the central bank to keep rates on hold at 2 percent.
Also, South Korea's jobless rate stood at 3.8 percent in May, unchanged from April, the National Statistical Office said Wednesday - in line with economists' expectations. The number of unemployed persons grew to 938,000 from 933,000 in the previous month. At the same time, the number of employed persons also increased, to 23.7 million from 23.5 million in April. The economically active population climbed to 24.6 million persons from 24.4 million in the preceding month, with the participation rate moving up to 61.6 percent from 61.2 percent.
Finally, South Korea's L money supply, representing the broadest measure of money supply, rose 9.3 percent year-on-year in April, slowing from a 10.6 percent growth in March, the Bank of Korea said on Wednesday. The money supply growth has now eased for the third consecutive month in April. Meanwhile, the M2 measure of money supply increased 10.6 percent annually in April compared to an 11.1 percent rise in the previous month.
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