RTTNews - The Malaysian stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions, collecting 5 points or 0.4 percent in the process. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index is closing on the 1,180-point plateau - and now ahead of Monday's market holiday for National Day, the market is tipped to creep slightly higher at 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 KLCI finished slightly higher on Thursday, bucking the regional trend of decline thanks to modest gains among the financial stocks and more modest gains from the plantations and industrial issues.

For the day, the index added 4.34 points or 0.37 percent to close at the daily high of 1,176.90 after dipping as low as 1,169.80. Volume was 585.087 million shares worth 1.009 billion ringgit. There were 363 decliners and 292 gainers, with 241 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the decliners, Winsun, Gamuda, MSports, Tomei, Dlady, Nestle and Tenaga Nasional all finished lower, while Time, British American Tobacco, DiGi, DKSH, Sime Darby, Maybank, Public Bank, Bumiputra-Commerce, PPB, IOI Corp and Axiata all ended to the upside.

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, conglomerate Sime Darby saw a fourth-quarter pre-tax profit of 1.108 billion ringgit, down from 1.454 billion a year ago. Its revenue decreased to 7.535 billion ringgit from 9.121 billion ringgit previously. For the financial year ended June 30, Sime Darby said its pre-tax profit dropped 41 percent to 3.071 billion ringgit from 5.206 billion ringgit as revenue fell 9 percent to 31.014 billion ringgit from 34.045 billion ringgit.

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