RTTNews - One day after ending the modest two-day winning streak in which it had gathered nearly 20 points or 1 percent, the Singapore stock market turned right back to the upside again on Friday. The Straits Times Index regained support at 2,130 points one day after surrendering it - but now analysts say the market could hand it right back again at the opening of trade on Monday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is modestly negative uncertain economic data and corporate news at the end of last week - and investors also figure to be nervous ahead of more corporate results and data this week. The European markets finished last week in mixed fashion with a slight downside bias, while the U.S. markets ended with modest declines - and the Asian markets are predicted to fall right in between the two leads.
The STI finished modestly higher on Friday, as sharper gains from the morning session were erased by profit taking in the afternoon - particularly among the commodities. Financials and properties ended higher on bargain hunting after a rough couple of sessions.
For the day, the index was up 17.67 points or 0.83 percent to close at 2,139.78 after trading between 2,127.99 and 2,170.28. There were 303 gainers and 277 decliners.
Among the gainers, CapitaLand Ltd. ended 1.3 percent higher, while City Development was up 3.3 percent, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp gained 3.8 percent, DBS rose 1.8 percent and United Overseas Bank was 2.3 percent higher.
Finishing lower, Golden Agri Resources fell 17.4 percent, while Olam International slid 6.5 percent and Noble Group ended 3.3 percent lower.
The lead from Wall Street is downbeat as stocks ended Friday's trading mostly lower after showing a lack of direction throughout much of the session. The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory after ending the previous session notably higher. Volatility came as traders digested a slew of economic data that added to investor uncertainty about the outlook for the markets. Below average volume also contributed to the choppy trading.
Before the start of trading, the Labor Department said its consumer price index was unchanged in April after edging down by 0.1 percent in March. The lack of growth in consumer prices came in line with the expectations of economists. While energy prices showed another significant decrease, the 2.4 percent drop in energy prices was offset by a 9.3 percent jump in tobacco prices. Food prices slipped 0.2 percent in April after edging down 0.1 percent in March.
The report also showed that the core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.3 percent in April after rising 0.2 percent in each of the three previous months. Economists had expected core prices to edge up 0.1 percent. Additionally, a report from the Federal Reserve showed a slightly smaller than expected 0.5 percent decrease in industrial production in April, while the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index rose to 67.9 in May from 65.1 in the previous month.
On the earnings front, retailer JC Penney (JCP) reported first quarter earnings that edged out analyst estimates, while Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) reported a first quarter loss. In other news, ailing automaker General Motors (GM) said Friday that it has started to notify about 1,100 underperforming and very low sales volume U.S. dealers that they will not be retained on a long-term basis. The move is part of GM's updated viability plan submitted last month under which the automaker plans to reduce its current dealer network of 5,969 stores to about 3,600 by the end of 2010.
The major averages all closed notably lower, although off their worst levels of the day. The Dow closed down 62.68 points or 0.8 percent at 8,268.64, the NASDAQ closed down 9.07 points or 0.5 percent at 1,680.14 and the S&P 500 closed down 10.19 points or 1.1 percent at 882.88. With today's losses, the major averages all closed lower for the week, with the NASDAQ snapping a nine-week winning streak. The NASDAQ fell 3.4 percent for the week, while the Dow and the S&P 500 posted weekly losses of 3.6 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
In economic news, Singapore will on Monday release April figures for non-oil domestic exports, with analysts expecting a decline of 18.9 percent on year after the 17 percent annual contraction in March. Minus electronic, NODX is expected to drop 32 percent after the 25.7 percent fall a month earlier.
Also, retail sales in Singapore dropped 5.1 percent month-on-month in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, following a revised 10.4 percent growth in February, the Department of Statistics said Friday. Economists expected retail sales to fall 7.5 percent. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales grew 3.3 percent on a monthly basis in March.
Year-on-year, retail sales slipped 7.3 percent in March, after recording a revised 5.5 percent fall in February. Economists expected a decline of only 7 percent. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales were down 6.9 percent.
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