RTTNews - The Hong Kong stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions, collecting more than 700 points or 4 percent along the way to a fresh 10-month closing high. The Hang Seng Index broke above the 20,000-point plateau intraday before settling below that level, and now analysts are expecting the market to challenge that barrier again on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets provide little guidance as expected declines among the financials and technology sectors could be offset by gains among health care and pharmaceutical stocks. The markets in Europe and the United States finished mixed on Friday, but not too far from the unchanged line one way or the other. The Asian bourses could open to the upside once again, although a mild downside correction could take hold later in the day for many of the markets that are riding significant winning streaks.

The Hang Seng finished modestly higher on Friday, unable to hold on to sharper gains from morning trade. Financial stocks finished generally higher, although the gains were offset somewhat by profit taking in the property sector.

For the day, the index was up 165.09 points or 0.83 percent to close at 19,982.79 after trading between 20,063.93 and 19,715.15 on turnover of 83.64 billion Hong Kong dollars.

Among the gainers, HSBC added 2 percent, while China Mobile closed gained 1 percent, Hang Seng Bank was up 2 percent, Bank of East Asia collected 3 percent, BOC Hong Kong jumped 4 percent, Cheung Kong shed 1 percent and Sino Land was off 1 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is mixed as stocks were able to regain some ground but still finished Friday's session on a mixed note after discouraging news from Microsoft (MSFT) prompted a lower open. The Dow and the S&P 500 were able to eke out modest gains, while the NASDAQ snapped a 12-day wining streak.

Earlier selling pressure was generated by disappointing earnings from Microsoft, which reported weaker than expected quarterly sales, while American Express (AXP), Amazon.com (AMZN), Black & Decker (BDK), Schlumberger (SLB) and others offered a mixed bag of results.

Traders largely shrugged off a mixed report from Reuters and the University of Michigan, which showed that their reading on consumer sentiment for the month of July was upwardly revised from the preliminary reading but still came in well below the previous month. The report said that the consumer sentiment index for July came in at 66.0 compared to the preliminary reading of 64.6, although it remained below a reading of 70.8 for June. Economists had expected the index to be revised up to 65.0.

Meanwhile, some traders looked to Capitol Hill, where Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were among government officials testifying before the House Financial Services Committee regarding financial service regulatory reform. Notably, the Fed chief indicated that the government is winding down its unprecedented intervention in the U.S. financial system.

The major averages eventually ended the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line, with the NASDAQ stuck in the red. While the NASDAQ slipped by 7.64 points or 0.4 percent to 1,965.96, the Dow climbed 23.95 points or 0.3 percent to 9,093.24 and the S&P 500 rose by 2.97 points or 0.3 points to 979.26. Despite the mixed performance for the session, the major averages all posted strong gains for the week. The Dow rose 4 percent for the week, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 4.2 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.

In economic news, Hong Kong is scheduled to release June numbers for imports, exports and trade balance on Monday. Imports are forecast lower by 12.5 percent on year following the 19.2 percent annual contraction in May. Exports are called lower by 8.3 percent on year after the 14.5 percent annual decline in the previous month. The trade balance is predicted to show a deficit of 12.9 billion Hong Kong dollars after the 11 billion HKD shortfall a month earlier.

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