South Korean stocks are expected to continue their upward march next week on the back of favorable market conditions, analysts said Saturday. The country\'s key stock index, the KOSPI, gained 2.57 percent, or 54.61 points, this week to close at 2,180.35 on Friday, despite the lingering debt crisis in Europe and a rate hike by China. Next week is packed with major events such as the central bank\'s rate-setting meeting and an option expiry, but experts say the market is expected to overcome any volatility. \"Market sentiment is improving and fundamentals are in good shape,\" said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at Daewoo Securities. \"There could be a correction, but the market is likely to continue its upward move.\" The country\'s central bank, set to hold its monthly rate-setting meeting on Thursday, is widely expected to keep the rate at 3.25 percent due to household debts and lingering overseas uncertainties. The Bank of Korea raised the key interest rate by a quarter percentage point last month following a two-month freeze as inflationary pressure is growing due to the economic recovery. Analysts also said investors remain optimistic about second-quarter corporate earnings, which they believe will revive traders\' appetite for stock buying. Meanwhile, the U.S. stocks closed lower on Friday on weak employment data. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 62.29 points, or 0.49 percent, to 12,657.20, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 12.85 points, or 0.45 percent, to 2,859.81.