Ahead of the long weekend for the Lunar New Year, the South Korea stock market had moved higher in back-to-back sessions, collecting more than 25 points or 1 percent along the way. The KOSPI now rests just shy of the 2,400-point plateau and it's tipped to add to its winnings on Wednesday as it catches up on missed positive sentiment.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is murky, with profit taking likely after recent gains - especially among the oil and technology companies. The European and U.S. markets were mixed and little changed and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow suit.
The KOSPI finished modestly higher on Friday following gains from the technology, industrial, oil and chemical companies, while the financials were mixed.
For the day, the index added 14.92 points or 0.63 percent to finish at 2,395.26 after trading between 2,372.57 and 2,395.97. Volume was 295.3 million shares worth 4.96 trillion won. There were 568 gainers and 254 decliners.
Among the actives, Shinhan Financial jumped 2.00 percent, while KB Financial fell 0.35 percent, Hana Financial collected 1.38 percent, Samsung Electronics improved 0.49 percent, Samsung SDI jumped 1.48 percent, SK Hynix soared 2.46 percent, LG Chem gained 0.64 percent, Lotte Chemical strengthened 1.35 percent, S-Oil perked 0.23 percent, SK Innovation climbed 1.29 percent, POSCO rallied 2.66 percent, SK Telecom skidded 1.16 percent, KEPCO added 0.49 percent, Hyundai Mobis advanced 0.72 percent, Hyundai Motor rose 0.30 percent and Kia Motors, LG Electronics and Naver were unchanged.
The lead from Wall Street offers little clarity as the major averages opened lower on Tuesday, rebounded somewhat and ended the day mixed and little changed.
The Dow gained 104.40 points or 0.31 percent to finish at 33,733.96, while the NASDAQ sank 30.14 points or 0.27 percent to end at 11,334.27 and the S&P 500 eased 2.86 points or 0.07 percent to close at 4,016.95.
The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders expressed some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following recent volatility.
Uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates and the economy may also have kept some traders on the sidelines ahead of the release of some key economic data in the coming days.
A negative reaction to some of the latest earnings news contributed to an early pullback, with 3M (MMM) posting a steep loss after reporting weaker than expected fourth quarter earnings and providing disappointing guidance.
Crude oil prices fell sharply Tuesday on concerns about the outlook for demand due to a potential recession in Europe and the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for March ended lower by $1.49 or 1.8 percent at $80.13 a barrel.