The Malaysia stock market has alternated between positive and negative closes through the last five trading days since the end of the three-day winning streak in which it had gathered more than 20 points or 1.4 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index settled just above the 1,570-point plateau, and now investors are looking for renewed support when the market opens on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic, albeit with a limited upside ahead of this weekend's critical vote in Greece and in spite of more depressing news from Spain. But the bad news has also prompted optimism as global central banks are reportedly preparing for further financial stimulus. The European markets were mixed on Thursday and the U.S. bourses were firmly higher - and the Asian markets are expected to split the difference.
The KLCI finished slightly lower on Thursday following losses from the financial shares, industrial issues and plantation stocks.
For the day, the index eased 5.29 points or 0.34 percent to finish at the daily low of 1,570.94 after peaking at 1,577.60. Volume was 670.945 million shares worth 1.127 billion ringgit. There were 381 decliners and 267 gainers, with 325 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Maybank, Petronas Chemicals and CIMB Group all moved lower, while Sime Darby was unchanged.
The lead from Wall Street is firmly positive as stocks saw considerable volatility in the final hour of trading on Thursday, after moving higher in the morning. The markets managed to end the day on the upside amid optimism about the likelihood of further stimulus.
The late volatility followed a report from Reuters indicating that central banks from major economies are prepared to take necessary steps to stabilize the financial markets after the Greek elections on Sunday.
Traders also reacted to remarks by U.K. Chancellor George Osborne, who said the U.K. Treasury and the Bank of England will take "coordinated action" to protect the economy from the eurozone crisis.
Earlier in the day, the markets benefited when the Labor Department reported an unexpected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended June 9. Jobless claims rose to 386,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 380,000, while economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 375,000 from the 377,000 originally reported for the previous week.
While the report points to continued sluggishness in the labor market, the data led to optimism regarding the likelihood of further stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
Also, the Labor Department said that consumer prices fell by 0.3 percent in May after coming in unchanged in April. The slightly steeper than expected drop was largely due to a 4.3 percent decrease in energy prices. Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, rose 0.2 percent in May, matching the increases seen in the two previous months and in line with estimates.
Traders also digested news that Moody's cut its rating on Spanish government debt to Baa3 from A3, driving Spanish bond yields to euro-era record highs.
The major averages all ended the day in positive territory, offsetting the losses posted in the previous session. The Dow jumped 155.53 points or 1.2 percent to finish at 12,651.91, while the NASDAQ rose 17.72 points or 0.6 percent to end at 2,836.33 and the S&P 500 climbed 14.22 points or 1.1 percent to 1,329.10.
by RTT Staff Writer
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