RTTNews - The Malaysian stock market has finished higher now in three straight sessions, collecting nearly 45 points or 4 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index closed above the 1,100-point plateau, and now analysts are predicting that the market will add to those totals by the opening of trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets remains cautiously optimistic, although several of the regional bourses have spiked in recent sessions and are due for a downward correction or a spate of profit taking. Some mildly positive economic and corporate data should add to the positive sentiment. The European and U.S. markets ended modestly higher, and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow that lead as well - although the gains may fade as the trading day progresses.

The KLCI finished sharply higher on Thursday, powered by solid gains from the financial sector, while the industrial issues and plantation stocks also saw modest gains.

For the day, the index put on 11.64 points or 1.06 percent to close at 1,108.88 after trading between 1,097.24 and 1,120.41. Volume was 1.666 billion shares worth 2.139 billion ringgit. There were 398 gainers and 304 decliners, with 229 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, KNM Group, Axiata Group, Jaks Resources, PPB Group, Malaysian Pacific Industries and AMMB Holdings all finished higher, while Talam was unchanged and SAAG Consolidated ended slightly lower.

The lead from Wall Street continues to be positive as stocks showed signs of life in afternoon trading on Thursday, ending the day sharply higher after a lackluster start to the session. The major averages all finished in positive territory by solid margins, extending a recent upward move despite largely mixed economic and earnings news.

On the economic front, a report from the Labor Department showed that first time claims for unemployment benefits continued to decrease in the week ended July 11, with initial jobless claims falling by more than economists had been expecting.

Jobless claims fell to 522,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 569,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to fall to about 530,000 from the 565,000 originally reported for the previous week. However, analysts pointed out that seasonal issues in the auto sector have continued to impact jobless claims, skewing the data artificially lower.

Some pessimism on the day came after a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia report showed that the index of manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region fell by more than economists had been expecting.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders released a report showing an increase in homebuilder confidence in the month of July, with homebuilders seeing an improvement in current sales conditions.

On the earnings front, JP Morgan Chase (JPM) reported second-quarter net income that blew away Wall Street estimates, but Xilinx Inc. (XLNX), Cintas (CTAS), Harley Davidson (HOG), and Marriott International (MAR) offered a mixed bag of results.

The major averages pulled back off of their best levels of the day heading into the close, but they were able to post considerable gains on the session. The Dow closed up by 95.61 points or 1.1 percent at 8,711.82, the NASDAQ climbed by 22.13 points or 1.2 percent to 1,885.03 and the S&P 500 rose by 8.06 points or 0.9 percent to 940.74.

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