The Malaysia stock market put on less than a point on Thursday - but that was enough to extend its winning streak to three sessions, collecting more than 15 points or 1 percent in the process. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index finished just above the 1,580-point plateau, and now investors are expected to lock in gains when the market kicks off trade on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets suggests consolidation, with investors waiting on the sidelines ahead of the closely watched employment report from the United States later in the day. Adding to the cautious sentiment are comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who said that the euro area faces economic uncertainty despite signs of stabilization in the first quarter. The European and U.S. markets finished lower, and the Asian bourses are expected to follow that lead.
The KLCI finished flat on Thursday as gains from the financial shares and industrial issues were erased by losses from the plantation stocks.
For the day, the index added 0.78 points or 0.05 percent to finish at 1,583.17 after trading between 1,579.53 and 1,584.15. Volume was 1.295 billion shares worth 1.214 billion ringgit. There were 390 decliners and 344 gainers, with 325 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Maybank, Ariantec Global and Naim Indah all finished lower, while Sime Darby was unchanged and MAS, CIMB Group and AirAsia moved higher.
The lead from Wall Street is negative as stocks moved mostly lower on Thursday, with traders reacting negatively to a mixed batch of U.S. economic data. Caution ahead of Friday's closely watched monthly jobs report also contributed to some risk aversion.
Stocks came under pressure when the Institute for Supply Management said its non-manufacturing index dropped to 53.5 in April from 56.0 in March. While a reading above 50 indicates continued growth in the service sector, the drop surprised economists, who had expected the index to come in unchanged.
Meanwhile, the markets largely shrugged off a Labor Department report showing a bigger than expected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 28. Jobless claims fell to 365,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 392,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 378,000 from the 388,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Among individual stocks, Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR) plunged 47.8 percent after the specialty coffee company reported second quarter earnings in line with estimates but slashed its full year guidance.
Auto giant General Motors (GM) also ended the day in the red despite reporting first quarter adjusted earnings that exceeded analyst estimates. GM said its revenues for the quarter rose 4 percent. A strong performance in North America helped to offset losses in Europe.
The major averages climbed off their worst levels going into the close but still ended the day firmly in the red. The Dow fell 61.98 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 13,206.59, while the NASDAQ dropped 35.55 points or 1.2 percent to end at 3,024.30 and the S&P 500 slid 10.74 points or 0.8 percent to 1,391.57.
by RTT Staff Writer
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