South Korea Bourse May Run Out Of Steam On Friday

(RTTNews) – The South Korea stock market has ticked higher in two straight sessions, gathering almost 25 points or 0.8 percent along the way. The KOSPI now sits just beneath the 3,150-point plateau although it may spin its wheels on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed to lower, with stimulus optimism tempered by concern over the outlook for interest rates. The European markets were up and the U.S. bourses were down and the Asian markets figure to follow the latter lead.

The KOSPI finished barely higher on Thursday following gains from the chemical companies, weakness from the financials and a mixed picture from the technology and oil stocks.

For the day, the index gained 1.64 points or 0.05 percent to finish at 3,149.93 after trading between 3,128.72 and 3,159.03. Volume was 1.2 billion shares worth 23.8 trillion won. There were 518 gainers and 320 decliners.

Among the actives, Shinhan Financial lost 0.44 percent, while KB Financial skidded 1.59 percent, Hana Financial tanked 2.36 percent, LG Electronics soared 5.00 percent, SK Hynix tumbled 1.88 percent, Samsung SDI shed 0.66 percent, LG Chem climbed 1.00 percent, Lotte Chemical spiked 2.27 percent, S-Oil retreated 0.77 percent, SK Innovation plummeted 6.76 percent, POSCO sank 0.53 percent, KEPCO advanced 0.78 percent, Hyundai Motor plunged 3.28 percent, Kia Motors accelerated 2.22 percent and Samsung Electronics was unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is soft as stocks opened higher on Thursday but faded as the day progressed and ended slightly in the red.

The Dow shed 68.95 points or 0.22 percent to finish at 30,991.52, while the NASDAQ dipped 16.31 points or 0.12 percent to end at 13,112.64 and the S&P 500 fell 14.30 points or 0.38 percent to close at 3,795.54.

Optimism about additional fiscal stimulus helped generate early buying interest as President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil a major coronavirus relief package with a price tag in the ballpark of $2 trillion.

Trades were also reacting to a Labor Department report showing initial jobless claims jumped to their highest level in over four months last week. Traders have viewed disappointing data as a positive for the markets as it could put further pressure on lawmakers to approve more stimulus.

The pullback by stocks seemed to coincide with an advance by treasury yields, which rebounded following remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell – who suggested that the economy could return to pre-pandemic levels sooner than feared due to unprecedented fiscal stimulus and the Fed’s aggressive intervention.

But he reiterated that the Fed does not intend to raise interest rate anytime soon and downplayed talk of the central bank tapering its bond purchases in the near future.

Crude oil prices bounced higher Thursday on hopes that big stimulus from the Biden administration and the Covid-19 vaccination drive will lift energy demand. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February ended up by $0.66 or 1.3 percent at $53.57 a barrel.

Closer to home, The Bank of Korea will wrap up its monetary policy meeting this morning and then announce its decision on interest rates. The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 0.50 percent.

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