South Korea Stock Market May Spin Its Wheels On Thursday

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(RTTNews) – The South Korea stock market has finished lower in two of three trading days since the end of the four-day winning streak in which it had advanced almost 50 points of 1.6 percent. The KOSPI now rests just beneath the 2,995-point plateau and it figures to remain in that neighborhood again on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is murky following reports that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has fueled a worldwide spike in the illness. The European and U.S. markets were mixed and little changed and the Asian markets figure to follow that lead.

The KOSPI finished modestly lower on Wednesday following mixed performances from the financial shares, technology stocks and industrial issues.

For the day, the index dropped 26.95 points or 0.89 percent to finish at 2,993.29 after trading between 2,988.67 and 3,007.72. Volume was 536.6 million shares worth 10.8 trillion won. There were 439 decliners and 438 gainers.

Among the actives, Shinhan Financial tumbled 2.49 percent, while KB Financial tanked 2.46 percent, Hana Financial collected 0.23 percent, Samsung Electronics skidded 1.42 percent, LG Electronics spiked 2.70 percent, SK Hynix gained 0.53 percent, Naver lost 0.55 percent, Samsung SDI accelerated 2.00 percent, LG Chem advanced 0.96 percent, Lotte Chemical retreated 1.29 percent, S-Oil declined 1.57 percent, SK Innovation soared 5.75 percent, SK Telecom surrendered 2.02 percent, KEPCO surged 3.83 percent, Hyundai Motor added 0.47 percent, Kia Motors eased 0.12 percent and POSCO was unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street provides little clarity. All three of the major averages opened higher on Wednesday, and the Dow stayed that way throughout. The NASDAQ quickly turned lower and finished slightly under the line. The S&P 500 bounced back and forth and ended slightly in the green.

The Dow advanced 90.42 points or 0.25 percent to finish at 36,488.63, while the NASDAQ dipped 15.51 points or 0.10 percent to close at 15,766.22 and the S&P rose 6.71 points or 0.14 percent to end at 4,793.06.

Traders seemed reluctant to continue making significant moves following recent strength in the markets, which has helped stocks recover from the sell-off seen in reaction to initial reports about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

While Omicron has contributed to a surge in new coronavirus cases around the world, traders seem optimistic that the milder symptoms associated with the new strain will not lead to a significant economic slowdown.

On the U.S. economic front, the National Association of Realtors noted an unexpected pullback in pending home sales in November.

Crude oil prices moved higher Wednesday, extending recent gains after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude oil inventories fell more than expected last week. Crude oil for February delivery climbed $0.58 or 0.8 percent to $76.56 a barrel.

Closer to home, South Korea will release November numbers for industrial production and retail sales later this morning. Industrial output is expected to rise 2.5 percent on month and 3.2 percent on year after slipping 3.0 percent on month and rising 4.5 percent on year in the previous month. Retail sales were up 0.2 percent on month and 7.4 percent on year in October.