RTTNews - The Thai stock market has finished higher now in consecutive trading days, collecting more than 15 points or 2.5 percent along the way. The Stock Exchange of Thailand closed above the 610-point plateau, and now investors are optimistic that the market will move further to the upside at the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets provide little guidance as expected declines among the financials and technology sectors could be offset by gains among health care and pharmaceutical stocks. The markets in Europe and the United States finished mixed on Friday, but not too far from the unchanged line one way or the other. The Asian bourses could open to the upside once again, although a mild downside correction could take hold later in the day for many of the markets that are riding significant winning streaks.

The SET finished slightly higher on Friday, pushed into positive territory by gains among the energy stocks.

For the day, the index added 2.05 points or 0.33 percent to close at 614.24 after trading between 610.27 and 618.36. Volume was 2.731 billion shares worth 17.685 billion baht. There were 197 gainers and 111 decliners, with 132 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the gainers, energy giant PTT was up 0.43 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production added 0.72 percent, PTT Aromatics gained 0.51 percent, PTT Chemical surged 4.95 percent, coal producer Banpu was up 0.30 percent and Siam Cement gained 0.29 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is mixed as stocks were able to regain some ground but still finished Friday's session on a mixed note after discouraging news from Microsoft (MSFT) prompted a lower open. The Dow and the S&P 500 were able to eke out modest gains, while the NASDAQ snapped a 12-day wining streak.

Earlier selling pressure was generated by disappointing earnings from Microsoft, which reported weaker than expected quarterly sales, while American Express (AXP), Amazon.com (AMZN), Black & Decker (BDK), Schlumberger (SLB) and others offered a mixed bag of results.

Traders largely shrugged off a mixed report from Reuters and the University of Michigan, which showed that their reading on consumer sentiment for the month of July was upwardly revised from the preliminary reading but still came in well below the previous month. The report said that the consumer sentiment index for July came in at 66.0 compared to the preliminary reading of 64.6, although it remained below a reading of 70.8 for June. Economists had expected the index to be revised up to 65.0.

Meanwhile, some traders looked to Capitol Hill, where Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were among government officials testifying before the House Financial Services Committee regarding financial service regulatory reform. Notably, the Fed chief indicated that the government is winding down its unprecedented intervention in the U.S. financial system.

The major averages eventually ended the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line, with the NASDAQ stuck in the red. While the NASDAQ slipped by 7.64 points or 0.4 percent to 1,965.96, the Dow climbed 23.95 points or 0.3 percent to 9,093.24 and the S&P 500 rose by 2.97 points or 0.3 points to 979.26. Despite the mixed performance for the session, the major averages all posted strong gains for the week. The Dow rose 4 percent for the week, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 4.2 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.

In economic news, the Thai central bank on Friday lowered its outlook for the economy to show a contraction of up to 4.5 percent in 2009 instead of a 3.5 percent shrinkage predicted in April. For 2010, the Bank of Thailand foresees the economy growing as much as 5 percent, up from 3.5 percent growth predicted previously.

Headline inflation in 2009 is forecast to be in a range of '-1.5 percent to 0.0 percent' and '3.5 percent to 5.5 percent' in 2010. In April, the central bank said inflation would be in a range of '-1 percent to 1 percent' in 2009 and '1 percent to 3 percent' in 2010.

Meanwhile, core inflation is expected to be within the ranges of negative '0.5 percent to 0.5 percent' in 2009 and '1 percent to 2.5 percent' in 2010. That compares with April estimate of '0.0 percent to 1 percent' in 2009 and '0.0 percent to 1.5 percent' in 2010.

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