RTTNews - The Singapore stock market has finished lower in two of three sessions since the end of the five-day winning streak in which it had added nearly 100 points or 4 percent. The Straits Times Index fell below support at the 2,570-point plateau, and now analysts are expecting the market to extend those losses at the opening of trade on Thursday.

The global forecast provides little in the way of guidance for the Asian markets, although a touch of downside could drag the markets lower. Housing stocks and financials are expected to extend losses from the previous session, although gold miners are predicted to surge. The European and U.S. markets finished slightly lower, and the Asian markets are also expected to track to the downside.

The STI finished sharply lower on Wednesday, hurt by losses among the industrials and the airline stocks.

For the day, the index declined 26.46 points or 1.02 percent to close at 2,569.93 after trading between 2,560.15 and 2,582.53. Volume was 2.59 billion shares worth 1.85 billion Singapore dollars.

Among the decliners, Olam International plunged 7.3 percent, while Singapore Airport Terminal Services fell 4.2 percent and Noble Group shed 2.4 percent.

Wall Street puts forth a mildly pessimistic lead as stocks lingered near the unchanged mark for much of the trading day before a tame late session sell-off resulted in a modestly lower close on Wednesday. The major averages all closed on the downside, as traders largely shrugged off today's economic data and looked towards key employment data to close out the week.

The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its August meeting, indicating that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee are more confident that the economic downturn is ending and that growth is likely to resume in the second half of the year. The committee members said that their projections for the second half of 2009 and for subsequent years had not changed appreciably since the June meeting, except that they now saw smaller downside risks.

Nonetheless, while the members saw signs of stabilization in consumer spending and housing, most agreed that the economy is likely to recover only slowly during the second half of this year and all saw it as still vulnerable to adverse shocks.

In other economic news today, the Commerce Department issued a report showing that factory orders increased by less than economists had been expecting in July.

Meanwhile, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) said that non-farm private employment fell by more than economists had been anticipating in August, although the loss of jobs still marked the smallest drop in employment since September of 2008.

Separately, the Labor Department released its revised report on labor productivity in the second quarter, showing that productivity increased by more than previously estimated amid a smaller than expected drop in output.

The major averages saw some downside in late session trading, resulting in a lower close. The Dow closed down 29.93 points or 0.3 percent at 9,280.67, the NASDAQ fell by 1.82 points or 0.1 percent to 1,967.07 and the S&P 500 declined by 3.29 points or 0.3 points to close at 994.75.

In economic news, Singapore's economy is forecast to contract 3.6 percent in 2009, slower than a 6.5 percent decline expected in the June survey, a report by the Monetary Authority of Singapore said on Wednesday.

The survey said the most likely outcome is for the GDP to contract by between 4 and 4.9 percent this year. This compares with the government's expectation for the economy to shrink between 4 and 6 percent this year. For the next year, the growth is forecast to be 4.5 percent, higher than the 4.2 percent rise expected in the June survey.

Consumer price are forecast to be flat this year, in contrast to the 1.5 percent fall expected in the previous survey, while the jobless rate is projected to be 3.8 percent compared to 4.2 percent estimated earlier. In 2010, the consumer price inflation is expected to be 1.5 percent, unchanged from the expectations made in June.

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