The Hong Kong stock market has finished lower in two of three trading days since the end of the three-day winning streak in which it had climbed more than 450 points or 2.1 percent. The Hang Seng Index finished just above the 20,645-point plateau, and now analysts are forecasting a rebound at the opening of trade on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive following upbeat commentary from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed left interest rates at near-zero levels and also noted that further easing was a possibility, if conditions warranted. The European and U.S. markets finished firmly higher, and the Asian bourses are expected to follow that lead.
The Hang Seng finished slightly lower on Wednesday as gains from the energy producers limited the downside.
For the day, the index lost 30.87 points or 0.15 percent to finish at 20,646.29 after trading between 20,584.98 and 20,751.82 on volume of 41.94 billion Hong Kong dollars.
Among the actives, Huaneng Power jumped 1.4 percent, while Tencent plunged 4.7 percent, CNOOC climbed 1.1 percent and Foxconn International spiked 2.7 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is solid as stocks saw significant strength on Wednesday, with traders reacting positively to better than expected quarterly results from tech giant Apple (AAPL). The markets continued to perform well following the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement.
The strong upward move followed upbeat earnings news from Apple, the world's largest publicly-traded company by market capitalization. After the close of trading on Tuesday, Apple reported second quarter earnings of $12.30 per share, higher than $6.40 per share last year, while revenues jumped 59 percent to $39.2 billion.
Stocks saw continued strength following the Federal Reserve's monetary policy statement, which was largely unchanged from the previous statement. The Fed left interest rates at near-zero levels and reiterated that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014.
Additionally, the central bank said it now expects GDP to increase by 2.4 to 2.9 percent in 2012 compared to its previous forecast for 2.2 to 2.7 percent growth. Fed Chairman Bernanke assured that all policy tools remain at the Fed's disposal, but analysts say the Fed's optimistic outlook takes additional asset purchases off the table barring a turn for the worse for the economy.
Meanwhile, traders shrugged off a report from the Commerce Department showing that durable goods orders tumbled by 4.2 percent in March following a revised 1.9 percent increase in February. Economists had expected a drop of about 1.5 percent.
After moving sharply higher in early trading, the major averages hovered firmly in positive territory throughout the day. The Dow rose 89.16 points or 0.7 percent to finish at 13,090.72, while the NASDAQ surged up 68.03 points or 2.3 percent to end at 3,029.63 and the S&P 500 climbed 18.72 points or 1.4 percent to 1,390.69.
by RTT Staff Writer
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