RTTNews - The Hong Kong stock market continues to alternate between positive and negative finishes through the last nine trading days, winding up with a cumulative gain of about 100 points in that time. The Hang Seng Index fell through the 20,250-point support plateau, but now investors are looking for a modest recovery by the opening of trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic, with gains expected among the technology stocks, gold miners and financial shares - although selling pressure among biotechnology and airlines stocks are likely to cut into the overall upside. The European markets ended with modest losses, while the U.S. markets tracked slightly to the upside - and now the Asian markets are projected to stay close to the unchanged line with a slight upside bias.

The Hang Seng finished sharply lower on Thursday, as losses in stocks from mainland China weighed on investors. Shipping stocks and oil companies led the market lower, while property stocks also fell under pressure.

For the day, the index dropped 213.57 points or 1.04 percent to finish at 20,242.75 after trading between 20,147.34 and 20,364.40 on turnover of 58.86 billion Hong Kong dollars.

Among the decliners, HSBC Holdings lost 1.24 percent, while China COSCO Holdings fell 3.06 percent, China Shipping Development shed 2.29 percent, China Shipping Container Lines was off 1.91 percent, Pacific Basin Shipping eased 0.72 percent, CNOOC lost 3 percent, Sinopec eased 0.14 percent, PetroChina was down 0.23 percent, China Oilfield Service fell 3.6 percent, Shimao Properties lost 3.6 percent, Sino-Ocean Land shed 3.9 percent, R&F Properties dropped 5.5 percent and CNOOC fell 3.0 percent.

Wall Street offers a lead that is mildly positive as stocks staged a steady recovery and finished with modest gains on Thursday, following an initial retreat on the heels of relatively uneventful economic reports. The major averages all closed in positive territory, but the upside was limited by another low volume session.

Earlier, traders focused on a fresh batch of economic reports, with the Commerce Department revealing that second quarter GDP decreased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the second quarter, unchanged from the 1.0 percent decrease initially reported. Economists had been expecting GDP to be revised to show a decrease of 1.5 percent. The Commerce Department said upward revisions to exports, residential fixed investment, consumer spending, and government spending were offset by downward revisions to private inventory investment and nonresidential fixed investment.

Separately, the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits edged down last week, according to a report released by the Labor Department, although jobless claims remain at a relatively high level. The report showed that jobless claims edged down to 570,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 580,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to slip to 565,000 from the 576,000 originally reported for the previous month. Continuing claims, which measure the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment help, fell to 6.133 million for the week ended August 15, the most recent week for which the government has data.

A variety of sectors turned higher after moving lower earlier in the session, contributing to the recovery by the broader markets. Nonetheless, stocks were unable to sustain the upward move amid some uncertainty about the economic outlook.

The major averages moved off of their highs in late session dealing, but they were able to hold onto modest gains. The Dow advanced by 37.11 points or 0.4 percent to 9,580.63, the NASDAQ gained 3.30 points or 0.2 percent to close at 2,027.73 and the S&P 500 rose by 2.86 points or 0.3 percent to 1,030.98.

In corporate news, Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical reported six-month operating results for the period ended June 30, 2009 at RMB 1.369 billion, a year-on-year increase of RMB 1.803 billion. Profit after taxation and minority interests amounted to RMB 1.002 billion, a year-on-year increase of RMB 1.360 billion. Basic earnings per share was RMB 0.139 compared to a basic loss per share of RMB 0.050 for 2008 interim. Turnover of the group amounted to RMB 21.179 billion compared to RMB 32.867 billion for 2008 interim. In the first half of 2009, the group realized net sales of RMB 19.084 billion, down 40.91 percent over the same period last year.

Also, China Telecom reported first-half profit attributable to equity holders of the company of RMB 9.004 billion or RMB 0.11 per basic share, including the amortization of upfront fees. Excluding the fees, profit attributable to equity holders of the company fell 27.5 percent to RMB 8.412 billion or RMB 0.10 per basic share from last year's profit of RMB 11.606 billion or RMB 0.14 per share. Operating revenues were RMB 103.146 billion in the first half, and excluding the amortization of upfront connection fees, the operating revenues were RMB 102.554 billion, up 14.8 percent from RMB 89.351 billion in the same period of last year.

Finally, China Sunergy saw second quarter net income attributable to ordinary shareholders of $1.74 million, compared to $3.06 million last year. Net income per ADS was $0.04, down from $0.08 in the prior year quarter. Non-GAAP net profit was $1.2 million, compared to $4.0 million in the second quarter of 2008. Non-GAAP net income per ADS was $0.03, down from $0.10 in the year ago quarter. Total sales declined to $70.14 million from $111.64 million in the same quarter last year.

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