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China Stock Market Draws Another Firm Lead

The China stock market has moved higher in back-to-back trading days, gathering more than 15 points or 0.5 percent along the way. The Shanghai Composite Index now rests just above the 2,930-point plateau and it's tipped to open in the green again on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat on continued optimism over the outlook for interest rates. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourses were firmly higher and the Asian markets are expected to follow the latter lead.

The SCI finished modestly higher on Friday following gains from the financials, properties and insurance companies.

For the day, the index climbed 12.79 points or 0.44 percent to finish at 2,930.55 after trading between 2,905.81 and 2,938.53. The Shenzhen Composite Index gathered 7.84 points or 0.51 percent to end at 1,556.77.

Among the actives, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China advanced 0.90 percent, while Bank of China collected 0.27 percent, China Merchants Bank climbed 1.26 percent, China Construction Bank jumped 1.85 percent, China Life Insurance surged 5.03 percent, Ping An Insurance rose 0.88 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) was up 0.38 percent, Gemdale accelerated 1.83 percent, Poly Developments added 0.59 percent, China Vanke jumped 1.51 percent, CITIC Securities rose 0.82 percent and China Shenhua Energy and PetroChina were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks opened higher Friday and remained in the green as the major averages extended recent gains and set fresh record closing highs.

The Dow added 243.95 points or 0.90 percent to 27,332.03, while the NASDAQ gained 48.10 points or 0.59 percent to 8,244.14 and the S&P 500 rose 13.86 points or 0.46 percent to 3,013.77. For the week, the Dow surged 1.5 percent, the NASDAQ climbed 1 percent and the S&P rose 0.8 percent.

The markets continued to benefit from renewed optimism about the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates as soon as its next meeting later this month following comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

Trading activity was somewhat subdued, however, as traders brace for the unofficial start of earnings season this week.

Crude oil futures ended flat on Friday as traders weighed near term prospects for energy demand and supply. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August ended at $60.21 a barrel, up just a penny over previous close. or the week, oil futures gained about 4.7 percent.

Closer to home, China is scheduled to release a batch of data this morning, including Q2 numbers for gross domestic product, as well as June figures for industrial production, retail sales, fixed asset investment, new home prices and unemployment.

GDP is expected to rise 1.5 percent on quarter and 6.2 percent on year after gaining 1.4 percent on quarter and 6.4 percent on year in the three months prior.

Industrial production is expected to add 5.2 percent on year, up from 5.0 percent in May. Retail sales are tipped to gain 8.5 percent, down from 8.5 percent in the previous month. FAI is called steady at 5.6 percent. New home prices rose 0.71 percent in May, while the jobless rate was 5.0 percent.

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