The Hong Kong stock market on Wednesday snapped the two-day losing streak that had cost it more than 700 points or 5 percent along the way. The Hang Seng Index is closing on resistance at 15,000 points, and analysts are expecting the market to cruise through that level at the opening of trade on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is generally upbeat, despite weak GDP numbers out of the United States. Financial stocks also could be in focus following a shakeup at the top of Bank of America. The European markets finished sharply higher, as did the U.S. markets - and the Asian bourses are predicted to follow that lead.

The Hang Seng finished sharply higher on Wednesday, powered by financials and property stocks. For the day, the index surged 401.84 points or 2.76 percent to close at 14,956.95 after trading between 14,714.51 and 14,983.66 on turnover of 50.70 billion Hong Kong dollars.

Among the gainers, Li and Fung surged 7.2 percent, while Cathay Pacific rose 5.6 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec) rose 3.6 percent and Sun Hung Kai Properties rose 3.7 percent.

Wall Street offers a positive lead as stocks turned in a strong performance over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, with the major averages more than offsetting the losses posted in the two previous sessions. The strength in the markets came as investors shrugged off some weak GDP results and mulled over remarks from the Federal Reserve.

Before the opening bell, the Commerce Department released a report showing that GDP decreased at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in the first quarter, better than the 6.3 percent drop in the previous quarter, but considerably worse than the 4.7 percent decline economists had anticipated. A steep drop in private inventories played a big part in the sharper than expected contraction in GDP, however, with the drop in inventories subtracting 2.8 percentage points from first quarter GDP.

The substantial decline in inventories helped to offset a rebound in consumer spending, which rose by a bigger than expected 2.2 percent in the first quarter after falling by 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter and 3.8 percent in the third quarter.

Traders also kept a close eye on the Federal Reserve, which announced its latest decision on interest rates following a two-day monetary policy meeting. As expected, the Fed left its target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 0.25 percent and reiterated that it expects that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.

The Fed's accompany statement was largely unchanged from the statement issued following its March meeting, although it did acknowledge that the pace of contraction in economic activity appears to be somewhat slower.

On the corporate front, Bank of America (BAC) was on investors' minds during the session as Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Lewis faced severe shareholder anger at the bank's annual meeting. After the bell, Lewis was removed as chairman but retained the title of CEO.

The major averages moved off their best levels of the day going into the close but remained firmly positive. The Dow closed up 168.79 points or 2.1 percent at 8,185.73, the NASDAQ closed up 38.13 points or 2.3 percent at 1,711.94 and the S&P 500 closed up 18.48 points or 2.2 percent at 873.64. With the upward moves, the NASDAQ ended the session at its best closing level in nearly six months, while the Dow set a more than two-month closing high and the S&P 500 set a three-month closing high.

In corporate news, China Railway Construction Corporation saw revenue for 2008 climb 27.6 percent on year, the company said on Wednesday, standing at RMB 219,410.2 million. Profit for the year grew 60.7 percent to RMB 3.7063 billion, while profit attributable to equity holders of the company increased 58.4 percent to RMB 3,643.8 million.

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