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Tight Range Expected For Malaysia Stock Market

The Malaysia stock market has closed lower now in two straight sessions, although it has fallen just 7 points or 0.5 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index finished just above the 1,590-point plateau, and now traders are looking for a positive if mild bounce when the market opens on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed, after closing out last week in similar fashion. Support may be drawn from solid quarterly results from big-name companies such as Microsoft (MSFT), General Electric (GE), and McDonald's (MCD). Also, German business sentiment improved unexpectedly in April on rising optimism among manufacturers - although lingering uncertainty about the financial situation in Europe may cap the upside. The European markets finished higher on Friday and the U.S. bourses were mixed, and the Asian markets are expected to split the difference.

The KLCI finished slightly lower on Friday as losses from the financial shares and industrial issues were limited by support from the plantation stocks.

For the day, the index eased 4.77 points or 0.25 percent to finish at 1,591.85 after trading between 1,591.85 and 1,596.84. Volume was 1.631 billion shares worth 1.475 billion ringgit. There were 364 decliners and 317 gainers, with 361 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, CIMB Group and Petronas Chemicals finished lower, while Sime Darby was unchanged and Maybank, Ariantec Global, Focus Dynamics Technologies and Metronic Global all moved higher.

The lead from Wall Street provides little guidance as upbeat earnings news moved stocks higher early on Friday, but buying interest waned in the afternoon. Traders subsequently sold into the rally, resulting in a mixed close for the markets.

The early strength on Wall Street was largely due to a positive reaction to quarterly results from big-name companies such as Microsoft (MSFT), General Electric (GE), and McDonald's (MCD).

Microsoft reported fiscal third quarter earnings of $0.60 per share, better than the consensus estimate of $0.58 per share. GE reported first quarter net earnings that fell year-over-year, although the diversified conglomerate reported adjusted earnings of $0.34 per share, a penny above analyst estimates. Fast food giant McDonald's reported first quarter earnings that rose to $1.23 per share from $1.15 per share in the year-ago quarter, in line with estimates.

Honeywell (HON), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and Capital One Financial (COF) were among the other well-known companies that reported better than expected quarterly results.

Trading activity was relatively subdued amid a lack of major U.S. economic data and lingering uncertainty about the financial situation in Europe. A notable drop by shares of Apple (AAPL) contributed to the pullback by the tech-heavy NASDAQ, with the tech giant closing down by 2.5 percent.

The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line, as the NASDAQ slipped 7.11 points or 0.2 percent to finish at 3,000.45, while the Dow rose 65.16 points or 0.5 percent to end at 13,029.26 and the S&P 500 edged up 1.61 points or 0.1 percent to 1,378.53. For the week, the major averages also turned in a mixed performance. While the NASDAQ fell by 0.4 percent, the Dow advanced by 1.4 percent and the S&P 500 rose by 0.6 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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