RTTNews - The Malaysian stock market on Thursday wrote a finish to the three-day losing streak that had cost it more than 32 points or 3 percent along the way. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index regained support above the 1,160-point plateau, and now investors are anticipating that the market will continue to move to the upside when the market kicks off trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly optimistic as the markets are expected to extend the gains that were nearly region-wide a day earlier. Financials and properties are predicted to continue their recovery from the savage selloff earlier in the week. The European and U.S. markets finished solidly higher, and the Asian markets are expected to track those gains.

The KLCI finished modestly higher on Thursday, boosted by solid gains from the plantation stocks and the financial shares, while the industrial issues also saw a slight increase.

For the day, the index added 7.88 points or 0.68 percent to close at 1,163.43 after trading between 1,155.53 and 1,164.97. Volume was 684.631 million shares worth 982.331 million ringgit. There were 438 gainers and 213 decliners, with 213 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, Genting Malaysia, Huaan, Sime Darby, Maybank, Bumiputra-Commerce and KNM Group all finished higher, while Tenaga, Compugates and Metronic remained unchanged and MSports and Xian Leng ended with modest losses.

The lead from Wall Street is firmly positive as stocks saw strong gains on Thursday, helped by some upbeat news from the manufacturing sector that helped to offset a disappointing jobs report. The major averages all finished in positive territory by solid margins, extending their gains for a third straight session.

Some buying interest was generated by the release of a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve saying that manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region showed some signs of stabilization. The Philly Fed said its index of current activity rose to 4.2 in August from a negative 7.5 in July, with a positive reading indicating growth in the sector. Economists had been expecting a more modest increase to a negative 2.0. With the bigger than expected increase, the index rose above zero for the first time since September of 2008 and reached its highest level since November of 2007.

Separately, research group the Conference Board said that its leading economic indicators index increased for the fourth consecutive month in July, signifying a likely improvement in economic conditions in the near term. The index of leading economic indicators rose 0.6 percent in July following a 0.7 percent increase in June.

Earlier, the Labor Department released a report showing that first-time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased to 576,000 in the week ended August 15 from the previous week's revised figure of 561,000. The increase came as a surprise to economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 550,000 from the 558,000 originally reported for the previous week. Despite the recent concerns regarding the battered labor market, the disappointing data saw little reaction.

On the earnings front, traders also digested quarterly results from Sears Holdings (SHLD), NetApp (NTAP), PetSmart (PETM), Rio Tinto Group (RTP) and Heinz (HNZ), among others.

The major averages reached new highs for the session in the final hour of trading, but they gave back some ground going into the close. The Dow closed up by 70.89 points or 0.8 percent at 9,350.05, the NASDAQ climbed by 19.98 points or 1 percent to 1,989.22 and the S&P 500 rose by 10.91 points or 1.1 percent to 1,007.37.

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