The Thai stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions and in four of the last five trading days, closing on resistance at 450 points. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is tipped to make another run at that elusive plateau on Friday, adding modestly to the current winning streak.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly optimistic, with strong gains expected among the financial stocks after better than expected corporate results from banking giant Wells Fargo. Some solid economic news out of the United States adds to the positive sentiment. The European and U.S. markets finished sharply higher, and the Asian bourses are also expected to move significantly to the upside.
The SET finished slightly higher on Thursday, boosted by gains among the energy stocks. For the day, the index added 0.50 points or 0.11 percent to close at 444.07 after trading between 442.98 and 451.03. Volume was 2.638 billion shares worth 13.296 billion baht.
Among the actives, energy giant PTT was up 0.62 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production fell 0.51 percent, PTT Aromatics jumped 3.09 percent, PTT Chemical soared 8.89 percent, Siam Commercial Bank was off 0.44 percent and Kasikornbank was up 0.50 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is fairly positive again as better sentiment toward the financial sector and encouraging economic news drove stocks substantially higher on Thursday, allowing Wall Street to close out the holiday-shortened week on a high note.
Strong preliminary results from Wells Fargo (WFC) gave hope that the financials were not a lost cause, and some better-than-expected economic data contributed to the improved sentiment. Wells Fargo released preliminary first quarter results that crushed what analysts were expecting. The company said it now expects to report first-quarter earnings of $3 billion or $0.55 per share compared to analyst estimates of $0.23 per share.
Additionally, Barclays plc (BCS) helped lead financials higher after the company announced an agreement for the sale of its iShares business to Blue Sparkle LP, a new limited partnership established by CVC Capital Partners Group SICAV-FIS S.A. The purchase price for the deal was about $4.4 billion.
In economic news, a report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to 654,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 674,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 660,000 from the 669,000 originally reported for the previous week. However, the Labor Department also said that continuing claims rose to a new record high of 5.840 million in the week ended March 28th from the preceding week's revised level of 5.745 million.
Additionally, the Commerce Department said that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $26.0 billion in February from $36.2 billion in January. Economists had been expecting the trade deficit to come in at $36.0 billion.
The Dow finished the week above the 8,000 mark after a bout of profit-taking earlier in the week sparked doubt about the market's ability to hold this level. Trading is closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday. The Dow closed Thursday's trading higher by 246.27 or 3.14 percent at 8,083.38. The NASDAQ ended the session with a gain of 61.88 or 3.89 percent at 1,652.54 and the S&P 500 was up 31.40 points or 3.81 percent by the market close, at 856.56.
In economic news, Thailand will on Friday provide foreign reserves data for the week ending April 3. Analysts are calling for an increase of 117.2 percent on year following the 116.4 percent annual gain in the previous week.
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