The Singapore stock market ended lower by just a handful of points on Friday, but that was enough to snap the market's six-day winning streak in which it gathered more than 430 points or 22 percent on its way to a fresh seven-month high. The Straits Times Index slid through support at 2,240 points, but investors are expecting the market to rebound modestly at the opening of trade on Monday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is optimistic, thanks to better than expected economic data out of the United States and some positive corporate news. The European markets finished broadly higher, as did the U.S. bourses - and the Asian markets are tipped to go the same way, although some of the gains may be limited as the day progresses thanks to profit taking amidst lengthy winning streaks.
The STI finished slightly lower on Friday, thanks to pressure on the financials and the airlines. For the day, the index eased 3.39 points or 0.15 percent to close at 2,238.21 after trading between 2,203.23 and 2,283.84. Among the decliners, DBS Group slipped 0.83 percent, while United Overseas Bank dropped 2.25 percent and Singapore Airlines sank 5.14 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is firm as stocks showed a strong upward move over the course of the trading day on Friday, with the major averages ending notably higher after seeing some early volatility. The markets benefited from better than expected jobs data and a positive reaction to the results of the financial stress tests.
Before the start of trading, the Labor Department released a report showing that employment fell by 539,000 jobs in April following a revised decrease of 699,000 jobs in March. The decrease in employment marked the smallest drop in jobs since October of 2008. While the decrease was smaller than the loss of 600,000 jobs expected by economists, upward revisions to the number of job losses in February and March partly offset some of the optimism about the labor market. The Labor Department also said that the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in April from 8.5 percent in March. With the increase, which came in line with economist estimates, the unemployment rate rose to a new 25-year high.
Traders also reacted positively to the official results of the government's stress tests of the nation's 19 largest financial firms, which were released after the close of trading on Thursday. U.S. bank regulators said about half of the country's biggest financial institutions need to improve their capital positions in order to ensure that they can weather a further downturn in the economy. The results of the stress tests showed that 10 of the 19 banks tested need to raise a total of $74.6 billion. The banks involved in the exercise account for two-thirds of the assets and more than half of the loans in the U.S. banking system.
Regulators determined that Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup (C) are among the companies that need to improve their capital position, while Goldman Sachs (GS) and JP Morgan (JPM) are among those that don't need additional funding.
In other news, Dow component McDonald's (MCD) closed up 2.9 percent after the fast food giant said its global comparable sales rose 6.9 percent in April. The company also said systemwide sales fell 1.0 percent due largely to the stronger dollar.
The major averages closed firmly in positive territory, although off their best levels of the day. The Dow closed up 164.80 points or 2 percent at 8,574.65, the NASDAQ closed up 22.76 points or 1.3 percent at 1,739.00 and the S&P 500 closed up 21.84 points or 2.4 percent at 929.23. With the gains, the major averages all closed higher for the week, with the Dow and the S&P 500 setting four-month closing highs. While the Dow and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 4.4 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively, the NASDAQ rose a more modest 1.2 percent.
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