The China stock market has finished higher in two of four trading days since ending the three-day winning streak in which it added nearly 70 points or 3 percent en route to a seven-month closing high. The Shanghai Composite Index regained the 2,350-point level, and now investors are betting that the market can top 2,400 on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly optimistic, with strong gains expected among the financial stocks after better than expected corporate results from banking giant Wells Fargo. Some solid economic news out of the United States adds to the positive sentiment. The European and U.S. markets finished sharply higher, and the Asian bourses are also expected to move significantly to the upside.
The SCI finished sharply higher on Thursday, powered by the financials and the steel makers. For the day, the index was up 32.49 points or 1.38 percent to close at 2379.88 after trading between 2,331.88 and 2,380.94. The Shenzhen Index was up 133.34 points or 1.5 percent to close at 9030.31 for a combined turnover of 166.94 billion yuan. Gainers outnumbered decliners by 740 to 164 in Shanghai and 670 to 112 in Shenzhen.
Among the gainers, Baoshan Iron & Steel rose 0.53 percent, while Angang Steel gained 2.19 percent, Wuhan Steel Processing was up 2.07 percent, Ping An Insurance added 5.95 percent, China Pacific Insurance was up 5.3 percent and China Life gained 4.2 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is fairly positive again as better sentiment toward the financial sector and encouraging economic news drove stocks substantially higher on Thursday, allowing Wall Street to close out the holiday-shortened week on a high note.
Strong preliminary results from Wells Fargo (WFC) gave hope that the financials were not a lost cause, and some better-than-expected economic data contributed to the improved sentiment. Wells Fargo released preliminary first quarter results that crushed what analysts were expecting. The company said it now expects to report first-quarter earnings of $3 billion or $0.55 per share compared to analyst estimates of $0.23 per share.
Additionally, Barclays plc (BCS) helped lead financials higher after the company announced an agreement for the sale of its iShares business to Blue Sparkle LP, a new limited partnership established by CVC Capital Partners Group SICAV-FIS S.A. The purchase price for the deal was about $4.4 billion.
In economic news, a report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to 654,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 674,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 660,000 from the 669,000 originally reported for the previous week. However, the Labor Department also said that continuing claims rose to a new record high of 5.840 million in the week ended March 28th from the preceding week's revised level of 5.745 million.
Additionally, the Commerce Department said that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $26.0 billion in February from $36.2 billion in January. Economists had been expecting the trade deficit to come in at $36.0 billion.
The Dow finished the week above the 8,000 mark after a bout of profit-taking earlier in the week sparked doubt about the market's ability to hold this level. Trading is closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday. The Dow closed Thursday's trading higher by 246.27 or 3.14 percent at 8,083.38. The NASDAQ ended the session with a gain of 61.88 or 3.89 percent at 1,652.54 and the S&P 500 was up 31.40 points or 3.81 percent by the market close, at 856.56.
In economic news, business climate index, a main gauge for the macro-economic outlook, declined slower than in the previous quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. The quarterly business climate index slipped from 107 at the end of last year to 105.6 in the first quarter, but the decline was much smaller than a drop of 21.6 points in the last quarter of 2008, the NBS said.
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