RTTNews - The Thai stock market has stretched its winning streak to three sessions, adding more than 30 points or 5 percent on its way to a fresh nine-month closing high. The Stock Exchange of Thailand has broken through resistance at 600 points, although analysts are uncertain if the market can hold that line in Monday's trade.

The global forecast for the Asian markets offers little guidance, although the markets may slip under mild selling pressure on some overdue profit taking. Some better than expected economic news out of the United States is likely to keep the decline in the modest range. The European markets finished Friday's session in the green, while the U.S. markets ended little changed with a slight negative bias - and the Asian markets are projected to also move a bit lower.

The SET finished sharply higher again on Friday, thanks to gains among the energy stocks and the financials. For the day, the index jumped 10.97 points or 1.85 percent to close at 604.57 after trading between 595.47 and 604.57. Volume was 5.78 billion shares worth 31.493 billion baht.

Among the actives, energy giant PTT added 0.87 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production gained 1.80 percent, PTT Aromatics fell 0.48 percent, coal producer Banpu was up 0.29 percent, Bangkok Bank gained 3 percent, Siam Cement jumped 6.19 percent and Kasikornbank was up 3.77 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is flat with a touch of downside as stocks finished Friday's trading mostly lower after a lackluster performance following strong gains in the previous session. The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line, as traders were cautious following an employment report indicative of some signs of life in the labor market.

The report from Labor Department showed that non-farm payroll employment fell by 345,000 jobs in May following a revised decrease of 504,000 jobs in April. Economists had expected a decrease of about 520,000 jobs compared to the loss of 539,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month. At the same time, the report said that the unemployment rate jumped to 9.4 percent in May from 8.9 percent in April. With the increase, the unemployment rate came in above economist estimates of 9.2 percent and rose to its highest level since August of 1983.

On the corporate front, shares of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto (RTP) rose after the company entered into a joint venture agreement with rival BHP Billiton and scrapped its $19.5 billion deal with Chinalco. In lieu of its deal with Chinalco, Rio Tinto instead launched a heavily discounted $15.2 billion rights issue. The company also reported a decline in fiscal 2009 first-quarter earnings, adversely impacted by price movements and production volumes amid the downturn in economy.

Meanwhile, international retailer Guess (GES) said its first quarter profit fell 32 percent from last year, as revenue dropped and margins shrank. However, the company's quarterly earnings per share beat analysts' expectations. The firm's shares closed up by 5.8 percent for the day.

The major averages eventually finished the day mixed after being marred by choppy trading throughout the session. While the Dow finished up by 12.89 points of 0.2 percent at 8,763.13, the NASDAQ slipped by 0.60 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 1,849.42 and the S&P 500 edged down by 2.37 points or 0.3 percent to 940.09. For the week, the major averages all enjoyed notable gains despite being slowed by lackluster sessions on Wednesday and Friday. The Dow moved up by 3.1 percent for the week, while the NASDAQ rose by 4.2 percent and the S&P 500 climbed by 2.3 percent.

In economic news, the International Monetary Fund forecast on Friday that the Thai economy to contract 3 percent this year after recording a growth of 2.6 percent in 2008. The decline would be the first since the Asian crisis.

The output contraction in 2009 could be limited to about 3 percent provided that political stability is maintained and the authorities' fiscal stimulus speedily and efficiently implemented, IMF's executive board said after the Article IV consultation with Thailand.

The IMF said, to bring the economy back on a sustained high growth path, the Thai authorities need decisive policy implementation to support domestic demand. In addition, a swift restoration of investor and consumer confidence through a normalization of the political situation is also needed.

IMF directors welcomed recent aggressive cuts in the policy interest rate and said there remains room for a further monetary easing.

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