RTTNews - The losing streak has reached four sessions for the Hong Kong stock market, which as lost more than 1,100 points or 6 percent so far this week. The Hang Seng Index fell through support at 17,800, although now investors are looking for the beginnings of a recovery at the opening of trade on Friday.
The Asian markets draw a mildly positive lead from the global forecast as several of the regional bourses have been oversold in recent sessions - the financials in particular. Some better than expected economic data out of the United States is likely to add to the positive sentiment. The European markets ended broadly higher, while the U.S. bourses also finished with mostly modest gains - and the Asian markets are also pegged to move higher.
The Hang Seng finished sharply lower again on Thursday, as the financial stocks fell under heavy selling pressure throughout the session. For the day, the index plunged 307.94 points or 1.7 percent to close at 17,776.66 after trading between 17,655.82 and 18,069.76 on turnover of 63.64 billion Hong Kong dollars.
Among the actives, HSBC was down 1.3 percent, while Hang Seng Bank fell 0.8 percent, Bank of East Asia declined 1.7 percent, China Resources Power jumped 4.9 percent, Datang Power rose 2.4 percent, Huaneng Power rose 1 percent and Chaoda Modern Agriculture tumbled 15.5 percent.
Wall Street offers a cautiously optimistic lead as stocks finished largely on the upside Thursday after trading in a range for most of the session. While the tech-heavy NASDAQ closed nearly flat, the Dow and the S&P 500 posted notable gains as traders reacted to some encouraging economic data.
Some buying interest was generated by the release of a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showing that the pace of contraction in the mid-Atlantic region's manufacturing slowed by much more than economists had been anticipating. The Philly Fed said its index of activity in the manufacturing sector rose to a negative 2.2 in June from a negative 22.6 in May, although a negative reading still indicates a contraction. Economists had been expecting a much more modest increase to a reading of negative 17.0.
Separately, a report from the Conference Board showed that its leading indicators index rose 1.2 percent in May following an upwardly revised 1.1 percent increase in April. Economists had expected the index to increase by 1.0 percent, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.
While employment data from the Labor Department showed an increase in weekly jobless claims, some optimism was generated by a drop in continuing claims, which fell by 148,000 in the week ended June 6th to 6.687 million. This marked the first drop in continuing claims since the week ended January 3rd.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee expressed skepticism about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's proposal to set up the Federal Reserve as the primary regulator of risks to the entire financial system. Geithner responded by pointing out that central banks around the world generally have the authority to set monetary policy and to deal with the stability of financial systems.
After closing lower in the three previous sessions, the Dow closed up 58.42 points or 0.7 percent at 8,555.60 and the S&P 500 closed up 7.66 points or 0.8 percent at 918.37. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ underperformed throughout the session and closed down 0.34 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 1,807.72.
In economic news, the World Bank on Thursday raised its growth forecast for China, although it said it does not expect a high-single digit rebound until the world economy recovers convincingly. At the same time, the bank said there was no need for an additional stimulus for the economy.
In it quarterly update, the World Bank raised its 2009 growth forecast for the country to 7.2% from 6.5 percent estimated in March. Growth in China should remain respectable this year and next, although it is too early to say a robust sustained recovery is on the way, Ardo Hansson, Lead Economist for China said. The Chinese economy grew 6.1 percent in the first quarter, its slowest pace since the data began in 1992.
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