RTTNews - The Thai stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions, collecting more than a dozen points or 2 percent in the process. The Stock Exchange of Thailand moved further above support at 640 points, and now analysts say the market could extend those gains by the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is positive, thanks to better than expected economic news out of the United States. Housing stocks are expected to see strength for a change on Monday, while resource stocks also are tipped higher. The European and U.S. markets saw sharp gains on Friday, and now the Asian markets are forecast to extend those gains.

The SET finished modestly higher on Friday, as gains among the energy stocks were mitigated by weakness among the financial stocks.

For the day, the index was up 3.65 points or 0.57 percent to close at 644.63 after trading between 636.41 and 645.56. Volume was 3.934 billion shares worth 15.949 billion baht. There were 176 gainers and 137 decliners, with 139 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, energy giant PTT was up 0.42 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production added 0.36 percent, PTT Aromatics gained 1.01 percent, coal producer Banpu climbed 1.00 percent and Kasikornbank eased 0.34 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is firmly optimistic as stocks saw a notably strong outing on Friday, with early buying interested spearheaded by better than expected existing home sales data and relatively optimistic economic commentary from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The major averages all rose by substantial margins on the day, extending their winning streak for the fourth straight session.

Friday's rally was largely sparked a report from the National Association of Realtors showing that existing home sales increased by much more than expected in the month of July, with the headline figure rising for the fourth consecutive month. Existing home sales rose 7.2 percent to an annual rate of 5.24 million units in July from a 4.89 million unit rate in June. Economists had been expecting a more modest increase to a 5.0 million unit rate. The increase in sales was the largest monthly gain on record for the total existing-home sales series dating back to 1999. With the increase, existing home sales rose for the fourth consecutive month, the first four-month winning streak since June of 2004.

The markets also looked to remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who spoke about the recent financial crisis and the near-term economic outlook at the Kansas City Fed's annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Fed chief said, Economic activity appears to be leveling out, both in the United States and abroad, adding that the prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good. However, Bernanke warned that the recovery might be sluggish at first, with unemployment declining only gradually from high levels.

On the earnings front, Gap Inc. (GPS), Ann Taylor Stores (ANN) and J. M. Smucker Company (SJM) reported earnings that beat Wall Street estimates on the bottom line.

The major averages were rangebound for much of the afternoon, although they reached new highs for the session in the final hour of trading. The Dow closed up by 155.91 points or 1.7 percent at 9,505.96, the NASDAQ climbed by 31.68 points or 1.6 percent to 2,020.90 and the S&P 500 rose by 18.76 points or 1.9 percent to 1,026.13. With the four-day winning streak, the major averages all closed notably higher for the week, ending the session at multi-month closing highs. The Dow advanced by 2 percent, the NASDAQ moved up by 1.8 percent and the S&P 500 posted a gain of 2.2 percent.

In economic news, Thailand is scheduled to release second quarter figures for gross domestic product on Monday. Analysts are predicting that the Thai economy contracted 5.1 percent on year after the 7.1 percent annual decline in the previous three month. On a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, GDP is expected to climb 2.3 percent following the 1.9 percent fall in the previous quarter.

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