RTTNews - The Thai stock market on Thursday halted the two-day losing streak that had cost it more than 15 points or 2.5 percent in that time. The Stock Exchange of Thailand regained the 600-point support plateau, and now analysts are predicting that the market will extend its gains at the opening of trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is firmly optimistic, with modest gains predicted for the housing and property sectors. Continued good news on the corporate earnings front is expected to add to the positive sentiment, along with solid economic data out of the United States. The European and U.S. markets finished with significant gains, and the Asian markets are also predicted to open higher.

The SET finished sharply higher on Thursday, thanks to major gains among the energy stocks and the financials.

For the day, the index surged 13.97 points or 2.34 percent to close at the daily high of 612.19 after dipping as low as 605.03. Volume was 2.257 billion shares worth 13.905 billion baht. There were 251 gainers and 69 decliners, with 107 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the gainers, energy giant PTT was up 2.65 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production gained 2.99 percent, PTT Aromatics added 3.68 percent, PTT Chemical jumped 5.21 percent, coal producer Banpu collected 2.75 percent, Siam Commercial Bank gained 2.05 percent, Bangkok Bank rose 4.7 percent and Bank of Ayudhya surged 5.5 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is broadly positive as stocks staged a substantial rally following an encouraging report on existing home sales after a modest upward move at the opening bell on Thursday. The major averages all closed in positive territory by substantial margins, with the NASDAQ able to extend its winning streak for the twelfth straight session.

Earlier, buying interest was generated by data from the National Association of Realtors that showed that existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in June. Existing home sales rose by 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised rate of 4.72 million in May. Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.84 million unit rate from the 4.77 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month.

Although a separate report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose in June, the figure rose by slightly less than economists had expected. First-time claims in the week ended July 18th rose to 554,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 524,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to increase to 557,000 from the 522,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Traders also delved into a series of earnings reports, with 3M (MMM), Ford (F) and Wyeth (WYE) reporting results that surpassed Wall Street estimates. McDonald's (MCD), AT&T (T), Qualcomm (QCOM) also beat forecasts, although by more modest margins.

The major averages gave back some ground going into the close, although they held onto standout gains. The Dow closed up by 188.03 points or 2.1 percent at 9,069.29, the NASDAQ advanced by 47.22 points or 2.5 percent to 1.973.60 and the S&P 500 rose by 22.22 points or 2.3 percent to 976.29.

In economic news, Thailand will on Friday announce foreign reserves numbers for the week ending July 17. Forecasts call for an increase of 120.1 percent on year following the 120.5 percent annual expansion in the previous week.

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