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Singapore Stock Market May Challenge Resistance At 3,000 Points

The Singapore stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last five trading days, since the end of the two-day slide in which it had given away more than 30 points or 1 percent. The Straits Times Index settled just below the 2,980-point plateau, and now analysts are forecasting continued strength at the opening of trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat in anticipation of solid GDP data from China this morning. Also, the European Central Bank said that inflation in Eurozone is subject to upside risks and it is ready with all the tools necessary to address them "in a firm and timely manner." In corporate news, Internet giant Google Inc. said that its first quarter profit rose 61 percent from last year. The European and U.S. markets finished firmly higher, and the Asian bourses are expected to follow suit.

The STI finished sharply higher on Thursday following gains from the financial shares, shipbuilders and plantation stocks.

For the day, the index spiked 31.70 points or 1.08 percent to finish at 2,978.14 after trading between 2,958.38 and 2,982.96. Volume was 3.30 billion shares worth 1.37 billion Singapore dollars. There were 237 gainers and 138 decliners.

Among the gainers, Bumitama Agri surged 32 percent in its debut, while OCBC climbed 1.5 percent and Cosco Corp jumped 1.4 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks extended gains from the previous session on Thursday, continuing to recover from the sell-off earlier in the week.

The support followed a Commerce Department report showing that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $46.0 billion in February from $52.5 billion in January. Economists had been expected a trade deficit of about $51.7 billion. The data indicated that trade wasn't as big of a drag on first quarter GDP growth as previously anticipated, and led Capital Economics to raise its first quarter GDP growth estimate to 2.5 percent from 2.0 percent.

Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Labor Department showing initial jobless claims rose to 380,000 in the week ended April 7 from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected claims to edge up to 359,000 from the 357,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department also reported that its producer price index was unchanged in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February, versus forecasts for an increase of 0.3 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the core producer price index rose 0.3 percent in March after edging up 0.2 percent in February, in line with expectations.

In corporate news, shares of Sony (SNE) ended lower after the consumer electronics giant said it will cut about 10,000 jobs in fiscal 2012 as part of a turnaround plan.

The major averages closed firmly in positive territory, near their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 181.19 points or 1.4 percent to finish at 12,986.58, while the NASDAQ surged 39.09 points or 1.3 percent to 3,055.05 and the S&P 500 soared 18.86 points or 1.4 percent to 1,387.57.

by RTT Staff Writer

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