RTTNews - The Singapore stock market has finished higher now in four straight sessions, collecting nearly 150 points or 8 percent along the way. The Straits Times Index is closing on resistance at 2,270 points, but analysts say the market could be affected by the latest gross domestic product figures that came out an hour before the opening of trade on Thursday.
Singapore's gross domestic product contracted 14.6 percent in the first three months of 2009 compared to the previous quarter, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said on Thursday in its revised report. That was at the lower end of analyst expectations that had predicted a decline of between 17 and 14 percent on quarter. The preliminary reading in April had reported a 19.7 percent quarterly decline.
On an annualized basis, GDP was down 10.1 percent, better than forecasts that had called for a decline of 10.9 percent after the preliminary figure showed a contraction of 11.5 percent. In light of the data, the MTI is maintaining its growth forecast at -6 to -9 percent for 2009.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is slightly negative on fresh concerns that the worldwide economic slowdown may last longer than originally thought - which could put the financials under pressure. The price of crude oil rose back above $62 to a six-month high, which is expected to provide support for the commodity plays. The European markets provide a positive lead, while the U.S. markets all ended modestly in the red - and the Asian markets are also projected to trend lower.
The SET finished slightly higher as gains among the properties and plantations was enough to offset weakness among the financials. For the day, the index was up 8.88 points or 0.39 percent to close at 2,269.24 after trading between 2,246.44 and 2,274.28.
Among the gainers, Golden Agri-Resources soared 14.5 percent, while Wilmar International gained 3.3 percent, CapitaLand climbed 2.9 percent and Noble Group was up 6.5 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is modestly pessimistic as stocks finished Wednesday's trading session modestly lower, unable to sustain earlier gains. The major averages all slipped into negative territory in mid-afternoon dealing, closing just off of their worst levels of the day. Trading this week has been largely subdued as many traders sat on the sidelines following considerable profit taking last week, prompted by the run up in equities in recent months.
Traders digested the latest minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee released earlier this afternoon, which revealed some debate within the policymaking arm of the Federal Reserve over whether or not to purchase additional treasury securities. Although the final decision was to stick with the $300 billion agreed on at the March meeting, in late April some officials thought that purchasing more could spur recovery. While there was some debate over whether or not additional purchases would be needed, officials agreed that such a purchase was not warranted at that time.
Earlier, traders heard comments from treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who issued cautious optimism regarding the recovery of the embattled financial sector, while Bank of America (BAC) was able to raise a substantial amount of capital, further bolstering prospects for the industry. The day's trading was also impacted by better-than-expected earnings from Target (TGT) and Deere (DE).
In other news, the House of Representatives passed a landmark credit card industry reform bill Wednesday afternoon, sending legislation designed to crack down on the credit card industry to President Barack Obama. The 361-64 vote sends the bill Obama's desk and he is expected to sign it as early as Friday.
The major averages all closed slightly lower a late day selloff dragged the indices into negative territory. The Dow closed lower by 52.81 points or 0.62 percent to finish at 8422.04, while the NASDAQ was down 6.70 points or 0.39 percent to end at 1727.84, and the S&P 500 slipped by 4.66 points or 0.51 percent to finish at 903.47.
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