RTTNews - The Singapore stock market added less than a point on Friday, but that was enough to extend the market's winning streak to five sessions - gathering nearly 100 points or 4 percent in the process. The Straits Times Index remained just above the 2,640-point plateau, and now investors are expecting the market to remain right around that level again when it opens for business on Monday.
The global forecast for the Asian bourses is virtually flat after the markets finished generally higher last week. Tobacco, trucking and health care stocks are expected to fall under pressure, with perhaps a bit of support coming from the gold miners and other commodities. The European markets finished firmly in positive territory, while the U.S. bourses ended little changed - and the Asian markets are tipped to follow that latter lead.
The STI finished virtually flat on Friday, nudged into positive territory by gains in the financial sector.
For the day, the index was up 0.57 points or 0.02 percent to close at 2,642.80 after trading between 2,630.81 and 2,648.17. Volume was 2.64 billion shares worth 1.47 billion Singapore dollars. There were 277 decliners and 272 gainers, with 814 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, Olam International and Singapore Airlines finished lower, while Neptune Orient Lines was unchanged and Singapore Telecoms, Keppel Corp, DBS Group, United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp all finished higher.
The lead from Wall Street offers little guidance as stocks turned in a lackluster performance over the course of the trading day on Friday after failing to sustain an early upward move. The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the tech-heavy NASDAQ closing modestly higher.
The initial strength in the markets came as traders reacted to positive news from the tech sector, with computer maker Dell (DELL) reporting better than expected quarterly results and semiconductor giant Intel (INTC) raising its third quarter guidance. Nonetheless, buying interest waned not long after the opening bell.
Traders largely shrugged off the day's economic data, including a report from Reuters and the University of Michigan that showed their final consumer sentiment index reading for August came in at 65.7 compared to the mid-month reading of 63.2. The revised index came in well above economist estimates of 64.0 but still below July's 66.0.
In a separate report, the Commerce Department said that personal income was nearly unchanged in July following a revised decrease of 1.1 percent in June. Economists had expected income to increase by 0.1 percent compared to the 1.3 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
The report also showed that personal spending rose 0.2 percent in July compared to an upwardly revised 0.6 percent increase in the previous month. The modest increase came in line with economist estimates. With income unchanged and spending rising, personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income fell to 4.2 percent in July compared with 4.5 percent in June.
While the NASDAQ managed to end the session just above the unchanged line, the Dow and the S&P 500 posted modest losses. The NASDAQ closed up by 1.04 points or 0.1 percent at 2,028.77, while the Dow fell by 36.43 points or 0.4 percent to 9,544.20 and the S&P 500 dipped by 2.05 points or 0.2 percent to 1,028.93. Despite the mixed performance on the session, the major averages all closed modestly higher for the week. The Dow and the NASDAQ both rose 0.4 percent for the week, while the S&P 500 posted a weekly gain of 0.3 percent.
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