The Singapore stock market has run its winning streak to three sessions now, adding more than 130 points or 7.5 percent along the way. The Straits Times Index broke through resistance at 1,800 points, and now analysts predict that the market will add modestly to those gains at the opening of trade on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets continues to be strong, although some profit taking may set in as several bourses already have seen major gains this week. The G-20 economic summit in London has generated considerable positive momentum, fueling optimism that the global economy may finally be starting to recover. The European markets finished sharply higher, as did the U.S. markets - and the Asian bourses are predicted to follow suit.
The STI finished sharply higher on Thursday, thanks to major gains among the financial stocks and the property issues. For the day, the index soared 101.08 points or 5.94 percent to close at 1,803.34 after trading between 1,730.33 and 1,805.67. Volume was 1,821.9 million shares worth 1,659.5 million Singapore dollars.
Among the gainers, CapitaLand and City Developments both soared 11 percent, while Keppel Land jumped 8 percent, Hong Kong Land added 3.5 percent, DBS was up 6.5 percent, United Overseas Bank climbed 7 percent and OCBC was 5.2 percent higher.
The lead from Wall Street remains upbeat as stocks showed a strong upward move during trading on Thursday, as investors reacted well to mixed economic news and liked what they heard from the G-20 summit in London. The continued advance also reflected some optimism about stabilization in the economy.
Before the start of trading, the Labor Department said that initial jobless claims in the week ended March 28th unexpectedly rose to 669,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. With the increase, jobless claims rose to a new twenty-six year high.
Additionally, a report from the Commerce Department showing that factory orders rose 1.8 percent in February added to recent signs of stabilization in the economy, although the report also showed a notable downward revision to the data for January.
Meanwhile, traders were also keeping a close on the Group of 20 Summit in London, with the world leaders assembled at the meeting pledging to do whatever is necessary to end the economic crisis. President Barack Obama called the agreements reached by leaders a turning point in our pursuit of global economic recovery.
However, the president cautioned that while the reforms agreed to are necessary, they might not be sufficient. In order to ensure that a stable recovery takes hold, the G-20 will meet again in the fall, Obama announced. While noting that it is important that nations agree on an action plan, the president said individual actions remain just as important.
While the major averages gave back some ground going into the close, they still ended the session firmly positive. The Dow closed up 216.48 points or 2.8 percent at 7,978.08, the NASDAQ closed up 51.03 points or 3.3 percent at 1,602.63 and the S&P 500 closed up 23.30 points or 2.9 percent at 834.38. With the gains, the Dow and the S&P 500 ended the session at their best closing levels in nearly two months, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq set a nearly three-month closing high.
In economic news, hiring expectations for the second quarter fell in China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, recruitment services provider Hudson said on Thursday. China showed the highest expectations, with 30 percent forecasting headcount to rise in the second quarter. On the other hand, the proportion of respondents expecting to cut staff has jumped to 21 percent from 8 percent. At the same time, Hong Kong showed the lowest hiring expectations since the fourth quarter of 1998, when the Hudson Report started, with about 14 percent expecting to hire in the second quarter.
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