The global forecast for the Asian markets is laced with pessimism after a strong run-up in the previous session. The pending bankruptcy of General Motors has automobile sectors around the world under pressure, while North Korea's nuclear and missile tests add to the overall negative sentiment. The European markets ended slightly higher, while the U.S. markets ended firmly in negative territory - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow the latter lead.
The SET finished sharply higher on Wednesday, thanks to gains among the financials and the energy stocks. For the day, the index jumped 12.72 points or 2.34 percent to close at 555.41 after trading between 548.94 and 556.43. Volume was 4.987 billion shares worth 18.017 billion baht.
Among the actives, energy giant PTT surged 3.81 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production added 4.17 percent, PTT Aromatics gained 2.63 percent, coal producer Banpu was up 1.64 percent, Kasikornbank added 0.89 percent and Siam Commercial Bank shed 0.37 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is broadly negative as stocks saw a considerable pullback during Wednesday's trading following a notable rally in the previous session. The major averages showed lack of conviction during the first half of the day before moving firmly into negative territory in the afternoon.
Equities struggled to find direction in morning trading following a mixed report from the housing market. While a National Association of Realtors report showed a bigger than expected increase in existing home sales, the report also showed a considerable increase in housing inventories.
Nonetheless, stocks came under selling pressure following the Treasury Department's auction of $35.0 billion worth of 5-year notes. The sale drew a high-yield of 2.310 percent while attracting moderately strong demand, with the bid-to-cover ratio coming in at 2.32.
The report from the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales rose 2.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised rate of 4.55 million units in March. Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.66 million unit rate from the 4.57 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month. While the pace of existing home sales increased compared to the previous month, total housing inventories at the end of April represented a 10.2-month supply compared with a 9.6-month supply in March.
In corporate news, Bank of America (BAC) said that it raised almost $26 billion in its capital plan since the stress test results were announced and is well on its way to reaching the $33.9 billion indicated Supervisory Capital Assessment Program or SCAP buffer set by the Federal Reserve. The company announced last week that it raised $13.5 billion through issuing 1.25 billion shares in an at-the-market common stock offering. It has also sold part of its holdings in China Construction Bank, generating a capital gain.
In other news, the Federal Reserve continued its treasury buyback program this morning, the second quantitative easing move of the week. The New York Federal Reserve purchased $6.0 billion worth of securities with maturity dates ranging from May of 2012 to August of 2013. The day's buyback saw a total of $18.82 billion in treasuries submitted for the purchase. This week, the Fed purchased $7.55 billion in treasuries bringing the total to $130.53 billion since the program began on March 25.
The major averages all closed firmly in the red, just off their worst levels of the day. The Dow closed down 173.47 points or 2.1 percent at 8,300.02, the NASDAQ closed down 19.35 points or 1.1 percent at 1,731.08 and the S&P 500 closed down 17.27 points or 1.9 percent at 893.06.
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