RTTNews - The Thai stock market on Thursday halted the three-day losing streak in which it had shed just 5 points or 0.3 percent. The Stock Exchange of Thailand regained the 655-point level to touch a fresh 11-month high, and now analysts are predicting further gains when the market opens for business on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is fairly optimistic as unremarkable economic data out of the U.S. was more than offset by positive GDP readings from France and Germany, marking the end of the recession in both countries. Commodities and financials are forecast to lead the gains, while steel stocks also are tipped to rise. European and U.S. markets finished modestly higher, and the Asian bourses also are expected to move to the upside.

The SET finished sharply higher on Thursday, fueled by gains among the financials and the energy stocks.

For the day, the index added 12.66 percent or 1.97 percent to close at the daily high of 655.68 after dipping as low as 643.59. Volume was 4.147 billion shares worth 25.851 billion baht. There were 270 gainers and 80 decliners, with 102 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the gainers, energy giant PTT was up 1.60 percent, while PTT Aromatics jumped 3.55 percent, PTT Chemical surged 7.00 percent, PTT Exploration and Production was up 1.78 percent, coal producer Banpu jumped 4.41 percent, Siam Cement added 0.25 percent, Siam Commercial Bank gained 1.29 percent and Kasikornbank collected 2.46 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is modestly positive as stocks were able to post modest gains on Thursday, even as a slew of largely disappointing economic reports contributing to some uncertainty in the markets. The major averages saw choppy trading over the course of the day, but late buying interest helped stocks to finish on the upside for the second straight session.

Traders were presented with a number of economic reports on the day, with first-time claims for unemployment benefits showing a modest increase in the week ended August 8th, according to the Labor Department. The headline figure surprised economists, who had expected a modest decrease. Nonetheless, jobless claims remain well off the peaks seen during the spring months. The jobs report showed that initial jobless claims edged up to 558,000 from the previous week's revised figured of 554,000. Economists had been expecting claims to slip to 545,000 from the 550,000 originally reported for the previous week.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.1 percent in July. This followed a revised 0.8 percent increase in the previous month. The figure surprised economists, who had expected sales to increase by 0.8 percent. Additional data from the Commerce Department revealed that business inventories fell by more than expected in the month of June, although the report also showed a notable increase in business sales during the month.

Stocks saw some upside following the results of the Treasury Department's $15 billion sale of thirty-year bonds. The sale drew a high yield of 4.541 percent and attracted strong demand, with the bid-to-cover ratio coming in at 2.54. The bid-to-cover ratio is a measure of demand that indicates the amount of bids for each dollar worth of securities being sold.

The auction completed the Treasury's $75 billion in security offerings this week, designed to refund approximately $60.9 billion of privately held securities maturing on August 15, 2009 and to raise approximately $14.1 billion for government expenditures.

The major averages saw a steady upward move in late-session dealing, closing near their best levels of the day. The Dow finished up by 36.58 points or 0.4 percent at 9,398.19, the NASDAQ climbed by 10.63 points or 0.5 percent to 2,009.35 and the S&P 500 rose by 6.92 points or 0.7 percent to 1,012.73.

In economic news, Thailand will on Friday provide foreign reserves data for the week ending August 7, with expectations for a 124.1 percent increase on year following the 123.4 percent annual expansion in the previous week.

Also, Thailand's consumer confidence rose for the second straight month in July, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said on Thursday. The consumer confidence index rose to 73.4 from 72.5 in June. A reading below 100 suggests that pessimists outnumber optimists. The consumer confidence survey that queried more than 2,000 people found that the public is still concerned about political uncertainties.

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