The Malaysia stock market gave up less than a single point on Thursday - but that was enough to snap the four-day winning streak in which it had collected more than 20 points or 1.2 percent en route to another fresh record closing high. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index finished just below the 1,645-point plateau, although now analysts are forecasting renewed support at the opening of trade on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive thanks to upbeat earnings news, although soft economic data limited the upside. Tech stocks again figure to provide a lift as IBM Corp. (IBM) and online auctioneer eBay (EBAY) both posted better than expected Q2 results. Limiting the upside, the U.S. Labor Department reported a bigger than expected increase in weekly jobless claims. The European and U.S. markets finished higher and the Asian bourses are expected to open in similar fashion.
The KLCI finished flat on Thursday as gains from the financial shares and plantation stocks were offset by losses from the industrial issues.
For the day, the index eased 0.40 points or 0.02 percent to finish at 1,644.60 after trading between 1,644.23 and 1,647.94. Volume was 1.109 billion shares worth 1.591 billion ringgit. There were 389 gainers and 378 decliners, with 357 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Maybank, Petronas Chemicals and Tenaga Nasional all finished higher, while CIMB Group was flat and Sime Darby, Cybertowers, Luster Industries and Globaltec Formation ended lower.
The lead from Wall Street remains upbeat as notable strength was visible on Thursday, with technology stocks adding to the substantial gains posted in the previous session thanks to solid earnings news. Disappointing economic data limited the upside, but stocks still extended their recent upward move.
IBM Corp. (IBM) saw notable strength, with the tech giant advancing 3.8 percent after reporting better than expected Q2 earnings growth. The company's revenues fell short of estimates, but IBM also raised its full-year earnings guidance.
Online auctioneer eBay (EBAY) also posted a strong gain after reporting better than expected second quarter results. Shares of eBay surged up by 8.6 percent. Nokia (NOK) and Qualcomm (QCOM) also saw significant strength on the day following the release of their quarterly results.
Buying interest remained subdued following the release of disappointing economic data, including a Labor Department report showing a bigger than expected increase in weekly jobless claims - which jumped to 386,000 in the week ended July 14 from the previous week's revised figure of 352,000. Economists had expected 365,000 from the 350,000 originally reported.
A separate report from the National Association of Realtors showed an unexpected drop in existing home sales in June as sales fell 5.4 percent to an annual rate of 4.37 million in June from an upwardly revised 4.62 million in May. Economists had expected sales to climb to 4.65 million from the 4.55 million originally reported for the previous month.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve also released a report showing continued weakness in regional manufacturing activity, while a Conference Board saw a bigger than expected drop in its leading economic indicators index.
The major U.S. averages closed firmly higher on Thursday as the NASDAQ advanced 23.30 points or 0.8 percent to finish at 2,965.90, while the Dow rose 34.66 points or 0.3 percent to end at 12,943.36 and the S&P 500 climbed 3.73 points or 0.3 percent to 1,376.51.
by RTT Staff Writer
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