RTTNews - The Taiwan stock market has finished lower now in three straight sessions, shedding nearly 150 points or 2 percent in the process. The Taiwan Stock Exchange has declined in eight of the last nine trading days and has fallen through support at 6,700 points - although now investors are hoping that the market could begin a modest recovery at the opening of trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic, with gains expected among the technology stocks, gold miners and financial shares - although selling pressure among biotechnology and airlines stocks are likely to cut into the overall upside. The European markets ended with modest losses, while the U.S. markets tracked slightly to the upside - and now the Asian markets are projected to stay close to the unchanged line with a slight upside bias.

The TSE finished modestly lower on Thursday, as fears of a flu pandemic damaged sentiment. Textiles and food stocks led the decliners, while the financial, chemical, cement and technology sectors also ended under pressure. Paper and construction stocks finished with modest gains.

For the day, the index lost 28.46 points or 0.42 percent to finish at 6,690.75 after trading between 6,753.73and 6,658.73. Volume was 3.01 billion shares worth 78.63 billion Taiwan dollars. There were 1,361 decliners and 834 gainers, with 228 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the gainers, Amtran Technology jumped by the 7 percent daily limit, while Mediatek added 1.20 percent, Hon Hai climbed 1.4 percent and AU Optronics was up 0.47 percent.

Wall Street offers a lead that is mildly positive as stocks staged a steady recovery and finished with modest gains on Thursday, following an initial retreat on the heels of relatively uneventful economic reports. The major averages all closed in positive territory, but the upside was limited by another low volume session.

Earlier, traders focused on a fresh batch of economic reports, with the Commerce Department revealing that second quarter GDP decreased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the second quarter, unchanged from the 1.0 percent decrease initially reported. Economists had been expecting GDP to be revised to show a decrease of 1.5 percent. The Commerce Department said upward revisions to exports, residential fixed investment, consumer spending, and government spending were offset by downward revisions to private inventory investment and nonresidential fixed investment.

Separately, the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits edged down last week, according to a report released by the Labor Department, although jobless claims remain at a relatively high level. The report showed that jobless claims edged down to 570,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 580,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to slip to 565,000 from the 576,000 originally reported for the previous month. Continuing claims, which measure the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment help, fell to 6.133 million for the week ended August 15, the most recent week for which the government has data.

A variety of sectors turned higher after moving lower earlier in the session, contributing to the recovery by the broader markets. Nonetheless, stocks were unable to sustain the upward move amid some uncertainty about the economic outlook.

The major averages moved off of their highs in late session dealing, but they were able to hold onto modest gains. The Dow advanced by 37.11 points or 0.4 percent to 9,580.63, the NASDAQ gained 3.30 points or 0.2 percent to close at 2,027.73 and the S&P 500 rose by 2.86 points or 0.3 percent to 1,030.98.

In economic news, Taiwan's leading index rose 2.3 percent month-on-month in July to 97.3, the Council for Economic Planning and Development said on Thursday. This comes after a revised 1.7 percent growth in June. The annualized six-month rate of change rose by 5.7 points to 11.3 percent. At the same time, the coincident index climbed 2.7 percent in July to 95.1, after a 2.4 percent growth in the preceding month.

On the corporate front, Chunghwa Telecom saw second-quarter net income decrease 8.3 percent to NT$11.5 billion or NT$1.08 per basic share, the company said on Thursday. Total consolidated revenue decreased 3.8 percent to NT$48.1 billion. Of the total revenues, 27.9 percent was from fixed-line services, 36.8 percent was from mobile services and 25.5 percent was from Internet and data services, with the remainder primarily attributed to the consolidation of NT$2.6 billion in revenue from SENAO.

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