South Korea Pressurized for Profit Taking

Seoul shares were range bound on Friday despite positive U.S. employment and retail data, pressured by profit-taking and caution ahead of a critical payrolls report.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.01 percent at 2,180.74 points as of 0301 GMT.

“There is caution ahead of the expiry of options next week. The market is likely to take a breather next week after recent gains,” said Hana Daetoo Securities analyst Lee Joon-seong.

Refiners gained ground after U.S. crude futures ended 2 percent higher on Thursday, as data on better-than-expected private sector hiring, jobless claims and retail sales reports fueled hopes for an economic rebound.

“Refiners can raise product prices based on higher oil prices, which will help improve their earnings,” said Daewoo Securities analyst Park Yeon-jun.

SK Innovation jumped 3.3 percent, while GS Holdings Corp climbed 4.4 percent and S-Oil Corp was up 3 percent.

Tech counters were mixed after falling in the previous session. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd rebounded 0.7 percent, while LG Electronics Inc eased 0.6 percent.

On Thursday, technology bellwether Samsung Electronics forecast a 26 percent fall in second-quarter profit, clouding the outlook for the sector bracing for its earnings season late this month.

Hynix Semiconductor Inc firmed 2.1 percent after a media report that SK Telecom Co Ltd planned to bid for a controlling stake in the world’s second-biggest memory chipmaker. A spokesman for parent SK Group said SK Telecom was likely to make a solo bid for Hynix, although a final decision had not been made.

KB Financial Group Inc rose as much as 3.6 percent after unit Kookmin Bank said on Friday that it had sold a 9 percent stake worth $1.7 billion in its parent group within the offered price range.