RTTNews - The Malaysian stock market on Thursday snapped the modest two-day losing streak in which it had shed 8 points or 0.7 percent. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index is closing on the 1,190-point plateau, and now investors are optimistic that the bourse could break through that barrier by the opening of trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is fairly optimistic as unremarkable economic data out of the U.S. was more than offset by positive GDP readings from France and Germany, marking the end of the recession in both countries. Commodities and financials are forecast to lead the gains, while steel stocks also are tipped to rise. European and U.S. markets finished modestly higher, and the Asian bourses also are expected to move to the upside.

The KLCI finished modestly higher on Thursday, boosted by gains among the financial, technology and plantation sectors.

For the day, the index collected 5.65 points or 0.48 percent to close at 1,186.19 after trading between 1,180.54 and 1,188.03. Volume was 1.139 billion shares worth 1.679 billion ringgit. There were 568 gainers and 166 decliners, with 194 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, Axiata, KLK, IOI Corp, KNM, Sino Hua-an, Dreamgate, TA Enterprise, Mulpha, Sime Darby and Maybank all finished higher, while Tenaga was flat and Bumiputra-Commerce ended slightly lower.

The lead from Wall Street is modestly positive as stocks were able to post modest gains on Thursday, even as a slew of largely disappointing economic reports contributing to some uncertainty in the markets. The major averages saw choppy trading over the course of the day, but late buying interest helped stocks to finish on the upside for the second straight session.

Traders were presented with a number of economic reports on the day, with first-time claims for unemployment benefits showing a modest increase in the week ended August 8th, according to the Labor Department. The headline figure surprised economists, who had expected a modest decrease. Nonetheless, jobless claims remain well off the peaks seen during the spring months. The jobs report showed that initial jobless claims edged up to 558,000 from the previous week's revised figured of 554,000. Economists had been expecting claims to slip to 545,000 from the 550,000 originally reported for the previous week.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.1 percent in July. This followed a revised 0.8 percent increase in the previous month. The figure surprised economists, who had expected sales to increase by 0.8 percent. Additional data from the Commerce Department revealed that business inventories fell by more than expected in the month of June, although the report also showed a notable increase in business sales during the month.

Stocks saw some upside following the results of the Treasury Department's $15 billion sale of thirty-year bonds. The sale drew a high yield of 4.541 percent and attracted strong demand, with the bid-to-cover ratio coming in at 2.54. The bid-to-cover ratio is a measure of demand that indicates the amount of bids for each dollar worth of securities being sold.

The auction completed the Treasury's $75 billion in security offerings this week, designed to refund approximately $60.9 billion of privately held securities maturing on August 15, 2009 and to raise approximately $14.1 billion for government expenditures.

The major averages saw a steady upward move in late-session dealing, closing near their best levels of the day. The Dow finished up by 36.58 points or 0.4 percent at 9,398.19, the NASDAQ climbed by 10.63 points or 0.5 percent to 2,009.35 and the S&P 500 rose by 6.92 points or 0.7 percent to 1,012.73.

In economic news, tourist arrivals into Malaysia rose 3.6 percent year-on-year in the January to July period, Tourism Malaysia said on Thursday. During this period, tourist arrivals climbed to 13.35 million from 12.89 million in the same period last year. In July, tourist arrivals climbed 3.9 percent from last year to 2 million from 1.92 million in the previous year.

Country-wise, double-digit increases in tourist arrivals were seen from many countries in July, ranging between a 12.4 percent rise from Sweden to a 93.7 percent increase in arrivals from the Netherlands. The top 10 tourist markets in July were Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, China including Hong Kong and Macau, Brunei, Australia, India, the UK, Philippines and Japan.

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