A virtually flat finish was enough to halt the Thai stock market's four-day winning streak, in which it gathered more than 15 points or 4 percent. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is closing on resistance at 440 points, but analysts are predicting that the market will see more of a pullback at the opening of trade on Wednesday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets calls for a correction to the downside in the form of profit taking as many of the regional bourses are riding moderate winning streaks and have posted sizeable gains in recent weeks. The financials in particular have risen sharply in the last week and could be ripe for some selling pressure. The European markets ended the trading day mixed, while the U.S. markets all finished lower - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow suit.

The SET finished essentially flat on Tuesday, with financials ending higher and energy stocks coming in mixed. For the day, the index eased 0.01 points or 0 percent to close at 438.16 after trading between 436.70 and 443.01. Volume was 2.399 billion shares worth 12.946 billion baht.

Among the actives, energy giant PTT was up 0.62 percent, while subsidiary PTT Exploration and Production was off 0.51 percent, Kasikornbank jumped 2.23 percent, Siam Commercial Bank added 0.91 percent, Bangkok Bank was up 1.3 percent and Siam Cement shed 0.5 percent.

The lead from Wall Street has cooled as stocks moved back to the downside going into the close of trading on Tuesday after failing to sustain an afternoon recovery attempt. The major averages all ended the day firmly in negative territory, partly offsetting the standout gains posted in the previous session. While profit taking contributed to some weakness in the markets, selling pressure remained relatively subdued, helping the major averages to hold onto the bulk of Monday's gains.

For much of the session, traders were keeping a close eye on Capitol Hill, with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner testifying before the House Financial Services Committee. During his testimony, Geithner said the near-collapse of AIG (AIG) highlights broad failures of the U.S. financial system, and he pledged to work on improving the regulatory structure in order to prevent another similar situation.

I share the anger and frustration of the American people, not just about the compensation practices at AIG and in other parts of our financial system, but that our system permitted a scale of risk-taking that has caused grave damage to the fortunes of all Americans, Geithner said.

Bernanke added that the bonuses paid to employees of AIG were highly inappropriate. At the same time, Bernanke outlined the reasoning behind the government's repeated interventions to prop up AIG despite severe mismanagement within the embattled insurance giant. The Fed Chairman noted that AIG must scrupulously avoid any excessive and unwarranted compensation.

We have pressed AIG to ensure that all compensation decisions are covered by robust corporate governance, including internal review, review by the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors, and consultations with outside experts, Bernanke said.

However, the attacks on AIG have pushed other financial groups to work to return government funds as soon as possible. According to the Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs (GS) may sell its stake in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to help it repay the $10 billion it received under the TARP.

The major averages pulled back to new lows for the session in late-day trading, although they ended the session just off their worst levels. The Dow closed down 115.65 points or 1.5 percent at 7,660.21, the Nasdaq closed down 37.34 points or 2.4 percent at 1,518.43 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.58 points or 2 percent at 806.34.

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