Ahead of Thursday's holiday for the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, the Malaysia stock market had finally halted the five-day losing streak in which it had plummeted more than 55 points or 3.5 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index ended just above the 1,635-point plateau, and now traders are anticipating additional support when the market kicks off trade on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic with bargain hunting - particularly among the technology stocks - expected to boost the markets. Upbeat employment data from the U.S. adds to the positive sentiment. However, Microsoft reported after Thursday's bell that profit was down, although it still beat estimates - keeping technology stocks in focus. The European markets were higher and the U.S. bourses were mixed - and the Asian markets are expected to split the difference.
The KLCI finished modestly higher on Wednesday following gains from the financial shares, industrial issues and plantation stocks.
For the day, the index collected 6.59 points or 0.40 percent to finish at 1,635.25 after trading between 1,622.54 and 1,637.42. Volume was 1.16 billion shares worth 1.67 billion ringgit. There were 402 gainers and 286 decliners, with 314 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Maybank collected 0.34 percent, while Sime Darby rose 0.33 percent, Public Bank added 0.64 percent, Kuala Lumpur Kepong gained 0.46 percent, British American Tobacco advanced 0.68 percent, Axiata Group spiked 1.10 percent, YTL Power shed 1.27 percent and Malaysia Marine plummeted 2.30 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is mixed as stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Thursday, with traders weighing upbeat jobs data and earnings news against disappointing quarterly results from tech giant Apple (AAPL).
The tech-heavy NASDAQ posted a notable loss due in large part to a steep drop by shares of Apple, with the iPad and iPhone maker falling by 12.4 percent to its lowest closing level in a year.
After the close of trading on Wednesday, Apple reported better than expected first quarter earnings but on weaker than expected sales. The company also reported iPhone sales that missed expectations and provided disappointing second quarter revenue guidance.
Meanwhile, most stocks moved higher after the Labor Department said that initial jobless claims unexpectedly dipped to 330,000 last week, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's unrevised figure of 335,000. Economists had expected claims to climb to 355,000 - but instead fell to their lowest level since 318,000 in the week ended January 19, 2008.
Additionally, shares of Netflix (NFLX) moved sharply higher after the online video service provider reported an unexpected Q4 profit. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Xerox (XRX), and United Continental (UAL) also posted notable gains after reporting their quarterly results before the start of trading.
The major U.S. averages were mixed as the NASDAQ fell 23.29 points or 0.7 percent to finish at 3,130.38, while the S&P 500 inched up 0.01 points or less than a tenth of a percent to end at 1,494.82 and the Dow rose 46.00 points or 0.3 percent to close at 13,825.33.
by RTT Staff Writer
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