RTTNews - The Thai stock market turned back higher again on Thursday, one day after it ended the four-day winning streak in which it had collected nearly 25 points or 3.5 percent. The Stock Exchange of Thailand closed above the 620-point level, and analysts suggest that the market may extend those gains when it kicks off trade on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly positive, with solid gains expected from the financial shares. The continuing rebound among the resources - and the price of oil, in particular - adds to the positive sentiment. Commercial real estate and chemical stocks also are tipped higher. The European and U.S. markets finished firmly in positive territory, and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow suit.

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

For the day, the index was up 7.07 points or 1.15 percent to close at the daily high of 621.95 after dipping as low as 608.86. Volume was 2.453 billion shares worth 18.023 billion baht. There were 217 gainers and 85 decliners, with 138 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the gainers, energy giant PTT was up 2.13 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production added 1.85 percent, PTT Aromatics gained 2.06 percent, PTT Chemical jumped 3.59 percent, coal producer Banpu surged 6.67 percent and Kasikornbank was up 1.41 percent.

Wall Street offers a firm lead as stocks posted strong gains on Thursday, fueled by stabilizing earnings and employment figures, while respectable results for a seven-year note auction also boosted equities. The major averages all finished the day firmly in positive territory despite some late session profit taking, closing at their best levels of the year.

Early buying interest was generated as traders reacted positively to the latest earnings and economic data, including the Labor Department's report on first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended July 25. While the Labor Department said jobless claims came in above the average analyst estimate, there were some concerns that claims could have come in substantially higher. Further, the four-week moving average fell for the fifth straight week, dropping to its lowest level since January.

The report said that weekly jobless claims rose to 584,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 559,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 575,000 from the 554,000 originally reported for the previous week. The report also showed that the less volatile four-week moving average fell to 559,000 from the previous week's revised average of 567,250.

Traders also delved into a slew of earnings reports, with Visa (V) reporting adjusted earnings and revenues that beat estimates. Cigna (CI), Tyco (TYC), Kellogg (K) and Master Card (MA) also surpassed expectations on the bottom line, although revenues largely missed the mark. Meanwhile, energy giant Exxon Mobil (XOM) fell well short of earnings forecasts, although its revenues beat expectations.

Equities saw some modest upside after the results of the Treasury Department's $28.0 billion sale of seven-year notes showed that the auction attracted stronger than expected demand. The sale drew a high-yield of 3.369 percent, while the bid-to-cover ratio came in at 2.63. 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 major averages ceded considerable ground heading into the close, but they were able to hold onto strong gains. The Dow finished up by 83.74 points or 0.9 percent at 9,154.46, the NASDAQ advanced by 16.54 points or 0.8 percent to 1,984.30 and the S&P 500 rose by 11.60 points or 1.2 percent to 986.75.

In economic news, Thailand is set on Friday to announce June numbers for imports, exports, trade balance, current account and manufacturing production, as well as foreign reserves figures for the week ending July 24. Imports are forecast lower by 29.6 percent on year, with exports called lower by an annual 26.4 percent for a trade balance of $1.438 billion. The current account is projected at $1.061 billion, while manufacturing production is expected to contract 9.5 percent on year and foreign reserves are seen higher by 122.5 percent on year.

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