South Korea Shares May Halt Losing Streak

( - The South Korea stock market has finished lower in two straight sessions, skidding almost 50 points or 2 percent along the way. The KOSPI now rests just beneath the 2,425-point plateau although it may find traction on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic thanks to encouraging economic news and a bump in crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were mostly higher and the Asian bourses figure to follow suit.

The KOSPI finished sharply lower on Thursday following losses from the financial shares, technology stocks and automobile producers.

For the day, the index plummeted 45.35 points or 1.84 percent to finish at 2,423.48 after trading between 2,422.37 and 2,451.95. Volume was 613.17 million shares worth 9.62 trillion won. There were 646 decliners and 208 gainers.

Among the actives, Woori Bank lost 2.08 percent, while Shinhan Financial dropped 1.16 percent, KB Financial declined 1.58 percent, Hana Financial shed 1.63 percent, SK Telecom retreated 2.03 percent, Samsung Electronics tumbled 2.43 percent, LG Electronics surged 4.00 percent, LG Display slid 1.56 percent, SK hynix skidded 2.38 percent, POSCO perked 0.96 percent, Hyundai Steel plummeted 6.91 percent, Hyundai Motor plunged 3.91 percent and Kia Motors fell 1.83 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is conflicted as the major averages were mixed on Thursday as the tech-heavy NASDAQ climbed to a new record closing high, while the Dow fell for the third straight day.

The Dow fell 25.89 points or 0.10 percent to 25,175.31, while the NASDAQ added 65.34 points or 0.85 percent to 7,761.04 and the S&P added 6.86 points or 0.25 percent to 2,782.49.

The support for the markets followed the release of a Commerce Department report showing a bigger than expected jump in retail sales in May. Also, the Labor Department noted a mild drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended June 9th.

Traders were also digesting the European Central Bank's monetary policy statement that revealed plans to wind down its massive bond-buying program. The ECB also left interest rates unchanged and said it expects rates to remain at their present levels for at least a year.

Crude oil futures inched higher Thursday, settling at a two-week high despite rumors that OPEC will ramp up production. The dollar strengthened a bit on the news, putting a cap on oil's advance.

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