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Thai Stock Market May See Additional Support

The Thai stock market has moved higher now in three straight sessions, climbing more than 30 points or 2.8 percent along the way. The Stock Exchange of Thailand finished just below the 1,165-point plateau, and now traders are looking for continued strength when the market kicks off trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is fairly upbeat thanks to positive news out of the auto sector sparks the positive sentiment, along with better than expected economic data from the United States. Brokerages are expected to fuel the rally, along with steel stocks and oil companies. The European and U.S. markets finished firmly in the green, and the Asian bourses are expected to open in similar fashion.

The SET finished slightly higher on Thursday as gains from the energy producers were offset by losses from the financial shares.

For the day, the index collected 4.08 points or 0.35 percent to finish at 1,164.98 after trading between 1,156.97 and 1,166.64. Volume was 4.758 billion shares worth 33.043 billion baht. There were 241 gainers and 236 decliners, with 154 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, energy giant PTT was up 0.28 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production added 0.54 percent, Siam Concrete collected 0.56 percent and Bangkok Bank shed 0.55 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks moved mostly higher on Thursday after ending the previous session firmly in the red. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to the latest upbeat employment report, which overshadowed some other disappointing economic data.

The Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended February 25. Initial jobless claims edged down to 351,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 353,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to creep up to 355,000 from the 351,000 originally reported for the previous week. Jobless claims now are at their lowest level since 347,000 in the week ended March 8, 2008.

The Institute for Supply Management reported an unexpected drop by its index of activity in the manufacturing sector. The index dropped to 52.4 in February from 54.1 in January, although a reading above 50 indicates continued growth in the sector. The drop surprised economists, who had expected a reading of 54.6.

Meanwhile, separate reports from the Commerce Department showed a smaller than expected increase in personal spending in January as well as an unexpected decrease in construction spending.

Positive news out of the auto sector also helped to offset the disappointing economic data, with major automakers including General Motors (GM) reporting increases in auto sales in February. GM reported a 1.1 percent increase in auto sales in February, surprising analysts.

While the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 ended the day firmly in positive territory, the Dow once again encountered resistance near the 13,000 level. The Dow edged up 28.23 points or 0.2 percent to 12,980.30, while the NASDAQ climbed 22.08 points or 0.7 percent to 2,988.97 and the S&P 500 rose 8.41 points or 0.6 percent to 1,374.09.

In economic news, Thailand will on Friday release consumer confidence data for the economy in February, with forecasts suggesting a score of 65, up from 64 in January.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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