The Indonesian stock market has stretched its winning streak to three sessions, gathering nearly 150 points or 9 percent in the process. The Jakarta Composite Index surged through resistance at 1,700 points - and now analysts are expecting little movement on Friday in thin trade, since much of the rest of the region is off on holiday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed as auto makers will be in focus following the news of Chrysler's bankruptcy filing. Technology stocks may provide a bit of support as the European bourses finished sharply higher, although the U.S. markets ended virtually flat - and the few open Asian markets are predicted to follow the latter lead.
The JCI finished sharply higher again on Thursday, spurred by gains among the financials and the energy stocks. For the day, the index jumped 78.58 points or 4.78 percent to close at 1,722.77 after trading between 1,644.24 and 1,728.07. Volume was 20.14 billion shares worth 5.88 trillion rupiah.
Wall Street offers little guidance as the markets moved lower over the course of Thursday as traders reacted to news that auto giant Chrysler has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Stocks saw considerable early strength before eventually ending the day mixed.
President Barack Obama revealed that Chrysler would file for bankruptcy in remarks at the White House earlier in the day, adding that the company has reached an agreement to form a partnership with Italian automaker Fiat. Obama said that he expects Chrysler's bankruptcy to be quick and minimally disruptive and said he believes the company will emerge from the process stronger and more competitive.
Although Chrysler was a pillar of the U.S. auto industry for decades, its inability to move fast enough to adapt to the changing market marked the beginning of its demise. Obama noted that the government would provide nearly $3.5 billion to keep the company somewhat functioning while the filing takes place and an additional $4.7 billion once Fiat takes over.
The strength seen in morning trading came as traders reacted positively to the latest batch of earnings and economic news, including a report from the Labor Department showing a notable decrease in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 25. The report said that initial jobless claims fell to 631,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 645,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 640,000 originally reported for the previous week.
However, the report also showed a continued increase in continuing claims, which rose to another new record high of 6.271 million in the week ended April 18. The continued increase suggests that people are having trouble finding jobs after they are laid off.
In earnings news, shares of Dow Chemical (DOW) moved sharply higher after the chemical giant reported first quarter earnings that showed a steep decline year-over-year but came in well above analyst estimates. On the other hand, shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) saw some weakness after the oil giant reported first quarter earnings that fell to $0.92 per share from $2.02 per share in the year-ago quarter and came in below analyst estimates of $0.95 per share.
The major averages finished the day mixed, with the NASDAQ posting a modest gain. While the NASDAQ closed up 5.36 points or 0.3 percent at 1,717.30, the Dow closed down 17.61 points or 0.2 percent at 8,168.12 and the S&P 500 closed down 0.83 points or 0.1 percent at 872.81. Despite the mixed performance on the day, the major averages all closed higher for April, adding to the standout gains posted in March. The Dow rose 7.4 percent for the month, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted monthly gains of 12.3 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.
In economic news, Indonesia will on Friday provide March figures for imports, exports, trade balance and inflation. Imports are forecast lower by an annual 42.5 percent, while exports are seen down 39.4 percent and the trade balance is expected to show a surplus of $2.64 billion. CPI is forecast at 7.6 percent, down from 7.92 percent in the previous month.
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