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China Stock Market May Find Traction On Friday

The China stock market headed south again on Thursday, one session after it had ended the two-day slide in which it had retreated just 7 points or 0.2 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index now rests just beneath the 3,190-point plateau and it's eying a steady start for Friday's trade.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is wait and see ahead of the start on earnings season; a tumble in crude oil prices provides a negative bias as the European and U.S. markets were mixed and roughly flat.

The SCI finished sharply lower on Thursday following losses from the financials, properties and oil and insurance companies.

For the day, the index skidded 51.97 percent or 1.60 percent to finish at 3,189.96 after trading between 3,185.55 and 3,254.13. The Shenzhen Composite Index plummeted 38.91 points or 2.19 percent to end at 1,740.37.

Among the actives, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China shed 0.35 percent, while China Construction Bank dropped 1.09 percent, China Merchants Bank lost 0.31 percent, China Life Insurance skidded 1.44 percent, Ping An Insurance tumbled 1.61 percent, PetroChina sank 0.91 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) retreated 1.19 percent, China Shenhua Energy declined 1.78 percent, Gemdale fell 2.84 percent, Poly Developments plummeted 3.07 percent, China Vanke plunged 2.84 percent, CITIC Securities was down 2.12 percent and Bank of China was unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street offers little clarity as stocks fluctuated on Thursday before ending mixed and little changed.

The Dow shed 14.11 points or 0.05 percent to end at 26,143.05, while the NASDAQ fell 16.88 points or 0.21 percent to 7,947.36 and the S&P 500 added 0.11 points to finish at 2,888.32.

Traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the upcoming earnings season, as analysts expect results to be disappointing. Financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) are due to report results later today, marking the unofficial start of the reporting season.

Lingering uncertainty about the global economic outlook and a potential U.S.-China trade deal also kept traders on the sidelines.

In economic news, the Labor Department said first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in nearly 50 years last week. Also, the Labor Department said a spike in energy prices contributed to a bigger than expected increase in U.S. producer prices in March.

Crude oil futures tumbled on Thursday on worries about a possible drop in demand for crude due to slowing global economy. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended down $1.03 or 1.6 percent at $63.58 a barrel.

Closer to home, China will release March figures for imports, exports and trade balance later today. Imports are expected to ease 0.1 percent on year after sinking 5.2 percent in February. Exports are called higher by an annual 7.7 percent after plummeting 20.7 percent in the previous month. The trade surplus is pegged at $8.10 billion, up from $4.12 billion a month earlier.

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