The Thai stock market has finished higher in four of its last five trading days, adding more than 10 points in the process. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is closing on resistance at 460 points, and investors are predicting that the market could break through that barrier at the opening of trade on Monday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is virtually flat. Corporate earnings are a mixed bag so far as some have come in better than expected - although more of the big financials are due to report this week and could fall under pressure. The European markets finished sharply higher and the U.S. markets ended barely in the green, and the Asian bourses are predicted to fall somewhere in between with modest gains.
The SET finished modestly higher on Friday, boosted by gains among the energy stocks - although weakness among the financials limited the upside. For the day, the index added 3.83 points or 0.85 percent to close at 456.80 after trading between 450.07 and 459.79. Volume was 2.992 billion shares worth 20.452 billion baht.
Among the actives, energy giant PTT surged 3.68 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production was up 1.52 percent, PTT Aromatics soared 10.26 percent, coal producer Banpu gained 5.86 percent, Thai Plastic was up 9.2 percent, Siam Commercial Bank fell 0.91 percent and Kasikornbank shed 1.5 percent.
Wall Street offers little in the way of guidance with perhaps a touch of upside as stocks ended Friday's trading modestly higher after a relatively lackluster session with traders digesting the latest batch of earnings news. The major averages ended the day just above the unchanged line but still managed close higher for the sixth consecutive week.
Earlier in the day, General Electric (GE) released its first quarter financial results, reporting earnings from continuing operations of $0.26 per share, down from $0.43 per share in the previous year. On average, analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.21 per share.
Citigroup (C) also released its first quarter results, reporting a loss available to common shareholders that shrank significantly to $0.18 per share from $1.03 per share in the year ago quarter. Analysts expected the company to report a loss of $0.34 per share.
In other corporate news, General Motors (GM) CEO Fritz Henderson said it was more probable that the auto giant would need to seek bankruptcy protection in order to complete its restructuring process, although he noted that isn't the company's preferred option.
Meanwhile, on the economic front, the Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for April rose to 61.9, a substantial increase from the previous reading. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 58.5 from 57.3 in March.
Also, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered a speech earlier in the day in which he offered his support to financial innovation, despite the fact that some of these new products have contributed to the current economic crisis. Bernanke argued that increased regulation would be a better response than eliminating innovation. The Fed chief noted that while financial innovation can misfire, more often the benefits outweigh the downside.
The major averages moved to the downside going into the close, ending the day modestly higher. The Dow closed up 5.90 points or 0.1 percent at 8,131.33, the NASDAQ closed up 2.63 points or 0.2 percent at 1,673.07 and the S&P 500 closed up 4.30 points or 0.5 percent at 869.60. Friday's modest gains helped the major averages to post their sixth straight week of gains. While the Dow rose 0.6 percent for the week, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
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