The winning streak has hit three sessions now for the Singapore stock market, which has collected more than 110 points or 6 percent in the process en route to a fresh eight-month high. The Straits Times Index was unable to break through resistance at 1,900 points, and now analysts are expecting the market to trade lower on Wednesday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly negative after several sessions of gain. Some weak economic data out of the United States adds to the negative sentiment, although it is tempered by positive earnings news. The European markets all ended higher following Monday's holiday, while the U.S. markets ended significantly lower - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow the latter lead.
The STI finished sharply higher on Tuesday, shrugging off data that showed a record contraction in GDP. For the day, the index was up 20.25 points or 1.08 percent to close at the daily high of 1,897.02 after dipping as low as 1,848.72. United Overseas Bank led the gainers with a 0.6 percent increase.
Wall Street offers a pessimistic lead as stocks saw substantial weakness during trading on Tuesday. Traders reacted to disappointing retail sales data and largely shrugged off some optimistic comments from President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke.
Stocks showed a notable decline in early trading after a report from the Commerce Department showed that retail sales fell 1.1 percent in March following an upwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in February. The decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected sales to increase by 0.3 percent.
Separately, the Labor Department said that its producer price index fell 1.2 percent in March compared to economist estimates of a flat reading. Core producer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, were unchanged compared to the previous month.
In corporate news, Goldman Sachs (GS) reported a first quarter profit that rose year-over-year and came in well above analyst estimates. The company also said that it has started a $5 billion public offering of its common stock, which may be used to repay TARP funds.
Additionally, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) also released first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates. The company reported earnings of $1.26 per share compared to the $1.22 per share that was anticipated.
In other news, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that there have been tentative signs of a slowing in the steep economic decline, offering hope that the worst of the recession may be drawing to a close. Speaking at Atlanta's Morehouse College, Bernanke cited statistics in home sales, homebuilding, and consumer spending, with sales of new motor vehicles showing some signs of leveling out.
Bernanke's remarks reflected those of President Barack Obama, who also spoke Tuesday regarding the hopeful signs in the economy. Obama, offered hopeful remarks in a speech at Georgetown University and praised the recent actions by his administration, including the $787 billion recovery act.
The major averages all closed firmly in negative territory, although off their worst levels of the day. The Dow closed down 137.63 points or 1.7 percent at 7,920.18, the NASDAQ closed down 27.59 points or 1.7 percent at 1,625.72 and the S&P 500 closed down 17.23 points or 2.0 percent at 841.50.
In economic news, Singapore will on Wednesday release retail sales numbers for February. Analysts are predicting a decline of 8.8 percent on year following the 12.2 percent annual decline in January. On month, retail sales are seen higher by 2.6 percent after the 9.9 percent decline in the previous month.
Also, Singapore's economy contracted worse than expected in the first three months of 2008, the Singapore Department of Statistics said on Tuesday, plummeting 19.7 percent compared to the previous quarter. This was far below analyst expectations for a 9.0 percent decline following the 16.9 percent fall in the previous quarter.
On an annual basis, GDP was off 11.5 percent versus expectations for an 8.9 percent decline after the 3.7 percent contraction in the previous quarter.
As a result of the data, the Monetary Authority of Singapore lowered its GDP forecast for the year to between minus-6 to minus-9 percent. In January, the MAS had estimated a decline of between 2 and 5 percent.
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