China Stock Market May Take Further Damage On Friday

The China stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last four trading days since the end of the four-day losing streak in which it had stumbled almost 60 points or 1.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index now rests just above the 3,555-point plateau and it's likely to open under pressure again on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed to lower, with oil and technology stocks likely to drag the markets to the downside. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourses were down and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.

The SCI finished sharply lower on Thursday following losses from the resource stocks and properties, while the financials offered support.

For the day, the index retreated 42.17 points or 1.17 percent to finish at 3,555.26 after trading between 3,555.16 and 3,601.07. The Shenzhen Composite Index tumbled 40.91 points or 1.65 percent to end at 2,434.92.

Among the actives, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China rose 0.21 percent, while Bank of China collected 0.64 percent, China Construction Bank added 0.49 percent, China Merchants Bank dropped 0.84 percent, Bank of Communications climbed 1.05 percent, China Life Insurance fell 0.23 percent, Jiangxi Copper lost 0.35 percent, Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) tumbled 2.56 percent, Yankuang Energy jumped 1.83 percent, PetroChina rallied 2.81 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) advanced 1.16 percent, Huaneng Power tanked 2.70 percent, China Shenhua Energy strengthened 1.58 percent, Gemdale sank 2.29 percent, Poly Developments plummeted 2.81 percent, China Vanke plunged 2.36 percent, China Fortune Land gained 1.08 percent and Beijing Capital Development was up 0.65 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is negative as the major averages opened higher on Thursday but gradually faded into the red as the day progressed.

The Dow dropped 176.70 points or 0.49 percent to finish at 36,113.62, while the NASDAQ plummeted 381.58 points or 2.51 percent to end at 14,806.58 and the S&P 500 sank 67.32 points or 1.42 percent to close at 4,659.03.

The sharp pullback by the NASDAQ came as traders cashed in on recent strength in the tech sector. Tech stocks got off to a rocky start in the New Year amid concerns about higher interest rates but regained some ground earlier this week.

Traders were also digesting another reading on U.S. inflation, with a report from the Labor Department showing only a slight uptick in U.S. producer prices last month. A separate report from the Labor Department showed an increase in initial jobless claims last week.

Crude oil prices gave ground on Thursday as investors cashed in on recent gains that led to a two-month closing high. West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery slid $0.52 or 0.6 percent to $82.12 a barrel after jumping $1.42 or 1.7 percent to $82.64 a barrel in the previous session.

Closer to home, China will release December numbers for imports, exports and trade balance later this morning. Imports are expected to rise 26.3 percent on year, slowing from 31.7 percent in November. Exports are called higher by an annual 20.0 percent, down from 22.0 percent in the previous month. The trade surplus is pegged at $74.5 billion, up from $71.72 billion a month earlier.

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