Ahead of Thursday's holiday for National Day, the Singapore stock market had finished lower in back-to-back sessions, shedding almost 20 points or 0.7 percent along the way. The Straits Times Index finished just above the 3,050-point plateau, and now investors may be looking to pick up bargains on Friday as the market catches up on some missed positive sentiment.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed and flat, with profit taking likely on the menu after the regional bourses rallied on Thursday following the release of Chinese economic data that was generally in line with expectations. Some positive economic data from the U.S. may provide mild support. The European and U.S. markets were mixed but little changed and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow suit.
The STI finished modestly lower on Wednesday following losses from the financial shares and the plantation stocks.
For the day, the index dropped 15.49 points or 0.50 percent to finish at 3,052.25 after trading between 3,044.20 and 3,077.66 on volume of 1.36 billion shares. There were 250 decliners and 143 gainers.
Among the decliners, Golden Agri-Resources dropped 3.5 percent, while Wilmar International shed 1.5 percent, Keppel Corp lost 0.6 percent, DBS Group retreated 0.54 percent and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. fell 1.5 percent.
Moving higher, Asia Pacific Breweries surged 7.5 percent, while Fraser & Neave added 2.5 percent, Olam International jumped 1.8 percent, Noble Group spiked 1.4 percent and SembCorp Industries climbed 2.83 percent.
The lead from Wall Street provides little clarity as stocks turned in another lackluster performance on Thursday, with traders reluctant to make any significant moves. The major averages remained stuck near the unchanged line throughout the session after ending the previous session nearly flat.
The choppy trading came as traders expressed continued uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following recent strength. While optimism about further monetary stimulus helped to drive stocks higher in recent weeks, traders seem reluctant to continue buying without any official announcement.
Some upbeat economic data helped to keep traders from cashing in on the recent gains, as the Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in weekly jobless claims - which fell to 361,000 in the week ended August 4 from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 367,000 from the 365,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Also, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $42.9 billion in June from $48.0 billion in May. The trade deficit had been expected to narrow to $47.5 billion. The narrower than expected trade deficit reflected an increase in the value of exports and a decrease in the value of imports.
Among individual stocks, shares of Allscripts Healthcare showed a strong upward move after the healthcare information services provider raised its full year earnings guidance. Online broker E*Trade also turned in a strong performance on news that CEO Steven Freiberg has left the company. Meanwhile, shares of SunPower came under pressure after the solar products and services company provided disappointing guidance.
The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the Dow edging down 10.45 points or 0.1 percent to finish at 13,165.19, while the NASDAQ rose 7.39 points or 0.3 percent to end at 3,018.64 and the S&P 500 crept up 0.58 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 1,402.80.
In economic news, Singapore will on Friday provide final GDP figures for the second quarter of 2012; last month's advanced estimate suggested an increase of 1.9 percent on year and a contraction of 1.1 percent on quarter.
by RTT Staff Writer
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