RTTNews - The Singapore stock market has closed higher now in consecutive trading days, collecting more than 60 points or 2.4 percent along the way. The Straits Times Index finished above the 2,630-point plateau, although now investors are bracing for a modest withdrawal at the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is fairly pessimistic, due largely to weaker than expected data out of the United States that indicates a worldwide economic recovery might not be as close as many had thought. Technology shares could remain under pressure, while steel, oil and other commodities also may slide. The European and U.S. markets finished modestly lower on Friday, and now the Asian bourses are expected to continue to trend to the downside.

The STI finished modestly higher on Friday, boosted by gains among the properties, airlines and telecoms.

For the day, the index climbed 17.33 points or 0.66 percent to finish at 2,631.51 after trading between 2,610.19 and 2,647.64. Volume was 2.55 billion shares worth 1.75 billion Singapore dollars. There were 257 gainers and 248 decliners, with 778 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the gainers, Singapore Airlines, Singapore Telecommunications, Neptune Orient Lines, CapitaLand, City Developments and Keppel Land all finished higher.

The lead from Wall Street is firmly negative as stocks finished notably lower on Friday, although a late session rally helped to mitigate the pullback prompted by the day's disappointing economic data. The major averages all closed lower by hefty margins, with the day's retreat leading to a lower overall finish for the week.

The decline in equities came following the release of Reuters and the University of Michigan's preliminary report on consumer sentiment for the month of August, which showed that the consumer sentiment index unexpectedly decreased compared to the previous month. The consumer sentiment index fell to a reading of 63.2 in August from a reading of 66.0 in July. The decrease surprised economists, who had been expecting the index to increase to 69.0. Coupled with disappointing retail sales figures released earlier this week, the data indicated that the American consumer is still struggling, prompting the pullback by stocks.

Also on the economic front, the Federal Reserve revealed that industrial production in the month of July increased by more than economists had been anticipating, boosted by a jump in auto production. The data showed that industrial production increased by 0.5 percent in July after falling by 0.4 percent in June. With the increase, industrial production rose for the first time since December of 2007. Economists had been expecting a slightly more modest increase in industrial production of about 0.4 percent.

Earlier, traders looked to figures from the Labor Department showing that consumer prices were unchanged in the month of July, with decreases in food and energy prices offsetting higher prices for apparel and tobacco. The Labor Department said its consumer price index was unchanged in July after increasing by an unrevised 0.7 percent in June. The lack of growth in consumer prices came in line with the expectations of economists. Excluding the decreases in food and energy prices, the core consumer price index edged up 0.1 percent in July following a 0.2 percent increase in the previous month. Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.1 percent.

The major averages saw considerable upside heading into the close, offsetting some of their early losses. The Dow closed down by 76.79 points or 0.8 percent at 9,321.40, the NASDAQ fell by 23.83 points or 1.2 percent to 1985.52 and the S&P 500 slipped by 8.64 points or 0.9 percent to 1004.09. With the losses, the major averages all closed modestly lower for the week following four consecutive weekly gains. While the Dow fell 0.5 percent for the week, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly loses of 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In economic news, Singapore is on Monday set to provide July figures for non-oil domestic exports, with analysts predicting an 11.3 percent decline on year following the 11 percent contraction in the previous month. Minus electronics, NODX is called lower by 19.5 percent on year after the 21.5 percent annual decline in the previous month.

Also, Singapore retail sales rose 2.3 percent month-on-month in June, following May's downwardly revised 0.7 percent increase, the Department of Statistical showed Friday. Driven by higher sales of furniture and household equipments, footwear and food and beverages, retail sales grew more than the expected growth of 1 percent. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales grew by a seasonally adjusted 3.7 percent in June from May.

On an annual basis, retail sales were down 8.2 percent in June, smaller than the revised 10.4 percent decline seen in May and 9.2 percent fall expected by economists. Excluding motor vehicles, sales dropped 1.5 percent over a year ago.

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