The China stock market on Thursday snapped the two-day winning streak in which it had surged more than 70 points or 3.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index finished just below the 2,030-point plateau, and now investors are looking for a positive bounce when the market opens on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets suggests slight gains, thanks to better than expected jobs data from the United States. Also sparking optimism, both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England made no changes with regard to interest rates. But the upside likely will be capped by caution ahead of closely watched U.S. non-farm payroll data later today, as well as ongoing concerns about the looming fiscal cliff in Washington. The European and U.S. markets were slightly higher, and the Asian markets figure to open in similar fashion.
The SCI finished slightly lower on Thursday as losses from the retailers were offset by support from the cement stocks and airlines.
For the day, the index retreated 2.67 points or 0.13 percent to finish at 2,029.24 after trading between 2,018.38 and 2,036.61 on volumes of 32.8 billion shares. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.2 percent to end at 769.90.
Among the actives, Wuliangye Yibin shed 1.1 percent and Kweichow Moutai lost 1.2 percent, while Jiangxi Cement added 0.4 percent, Huaxin Cement collected 0.4 percent, China Southern Airlines gathered 0.6 percent and Air China spiked 1.0 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is cautiously optimistic as stocks moved moderately higher on Thursday, although buying interest remained subdued. Traders seemed reluctant to make any significant moves ahead of Friday's monthly jobs report.
The modest strength was partly due to gains by technology stocks, with shares of Apple (AAPL) regaining some ground after ending the previous session sharply lower. Apple rose by 1.6 percent on the day after tumbling by 6.4 percent on Wednesday amid reports indicating that the company's iPad may lose market share.
Positive sentiment was also generated by a report from the Labor Department showing that jobless claims fell to 370,000 in the week ending December 1, down 25,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 395,000. Economists had expected a drop to 380,000 from the 393,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Nonetheless, many traders remained on the sidelines ahead of the closely watched monthly employment report. Economists expect an increase of about 90,000 jobs in November following the addition of 171,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate is expected to edge up to 8.0 percent from 7.9 percent.
Continued uncertainty about the looming fiscal cliff also helped to limit the upside for the markets, with lawmakers in Washington struggling to reach an agreement to avoid the approximately $600 billion in automatic tax increases in spending cuts due to take effect at the end of the year.
The major U.S. averages were slightly higher on Thursday as the Dow rose 39.55 points or 0.3 percent to finish at 13,074.04, while the NASDAQ advanced 15.57 or 0.5 percent to end at 2,989.27 and the S&P 500 climbed 4.66 points or 0.3 percent to close at 1,413.94.
by RTT Staff Writer
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