RTTNews - The Malaysian stock market on Friday snapped the modest two-day losing streak in which it had shed a dozen points or 1.2 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index moved above the 1,170-point plateau, although now investors are unsure if the market can hold that line when it opens for business on Monday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets offers little in the way of guidance as commodities and financials are tipped to continue to rise, but weakness among the technology shares could erase those gains. The European and U.S. markets finished in mixed fashion, although not too far from the unchanged line in either direction - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow that lead.
The KCLI finished sharply higher on Friday, thanks to major gains among the financial stocks and more modest increases among the plantations and the industrials.
For the day, the index was up 14.24 points or 1.23 percent to close at 1,174.90 after trading between 1,160.66 and 1,176.67. Volume was 1.257 billion shares worth 1.947 billion ringgit. There were 487 gainers and 207 decliners, with 241 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Ramunia Holdings, Handal Resources, Sime Darby, Bumiputra-Commerce and IOI Corporation all finished higher, while KNM Group, Maybank and Tenaga all remained unchanged.
The lead from Wall Street is inconclusive as stocks finished Friday's session on a mixed note after a shaky start prompted by gross domestic product figures for the second quarter. The major averages closed on opposite sides of the unchanged mark amid another session that was marred by low volume, typical of the summer.
Early trading was swayed by an advance report on second quarter gross domestic product from the Commerce Department. While the report revealed that the U.S. economy continued to shrink by a slower than expected margin, trader concern grew as consumer consumption came in far lower than expected. According to the data, gross domestic product fell at a pace of 1 percent for the second quarter after economists had expected GDP to fall at a rate of 1.5 percent. Some pessimism was generated by the personal consumption figure in the report, which showed a decrease of 1.2 percent, significantly more than economists had been expecting. This followed a 0.6 percent increase in the first quarter.
Later in the morning, traders largely shrugged off the Institute of Supply Management-Chicago's manufacturing index for July, which came in slightly higher than expected at 43.4. Economists expected the business barometer index to come in at 43 after rising by 5 points to 39.9 in June.
With earnings season drawing to a close, Disney (DIS) and Monster Worldwide (MWW) reported earnings that beat forecasts, while oil giant Chevron (CVX) disappointed. The season's earnings results largely beat expectations, but for the most part due to cost cutting measures rather than revenue growth in a market constricted by the recession.
After hovering in positive territory throughout much of the trading session, the major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The tech heavy NASDAQ fell by 5.80 points or 0.3 percent to 1,978.50, while the Dow closed up by 17.15 points or 0.2 percent at 9,171.61 and the S&P 500 rose 0.73 points or 0.1 percent to 987.48. Despite the mixed performance for the session, the major averages all closed higher for the week due largely to Thursday's rally. The Dow rose 0.9 percent for the week, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
In political news, thousands of people marched Saturday in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur against the Internal Security Act, which permits Malaysian authorities to detain persons indefinitely without trial.
Ignoring the government warning that police would crack down on protest, people gathered outside the national mosque. Police fired tear gas against protesters who were marching towards the palace chanting God is Greatest and Down with the government. Protesters had planned to deliver a petition to the King to appeal the security law.
Prime Minister Najib Razak had earlier agreed to review the controversial decades-old act and released a dozen of detainees held under the law after he took office in April.
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