RTTNews - The Malaysian stock market has finished higher now in three straight sessions, gathering more than 20 points or 1.9 percent in that time. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index remained above the 1,150-point plateau, and now analysts suggest that the market will hover right around that level when it kicks off 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. With many of the Asian bourses benefitting from significant winning streaks last week, a mild downside correction could be in order.

The KLCI finished slightly higher on Friday, as gains among the financial stocks and the industrial issues were largely wiped out by profit taking in the plantation sector.

For the day, the index gained 3.73 points or 0.32 percent to close at 1,155.88 after trading between 1,147.85 and 1,159.81. Volume was 1.039 billion shares worth 1.566 billion ringgit. There were 399 gainers and 247 decliners, with 247 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, KNM, Talam Corp, UEM Land, Sime Darby, Maybank and Telekom all finished higher, while Tenaga ended with modest declines.

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.

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