China Stock Market May Halt Losing Streak

( - The China stock market has finished lower in three straight sessions, skidding almost 45 points or 1.8 percent along the way. The Shanghai Composite Index now rests just beneath the 2,485-point plateau although it may stop the bleeding on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic as the U.S. stock markets shrugged off heavy damage in the morning to rise again on bargain hunting - although weakness from crude oil prices may cap the upside.

The SCI finished modestly lower on Thursday following losses from the oil companies and mixed performances from the properties and insurance stocks.

For the day, the index dropped 15.20 points or 0.61 percent to finish at the daily low of 2,483.09 after peaking at 2,532.00. The Shenzhen Composite Index skidded 15.56 points or 1.22 percent to end at 1,264.23.

Among the actives, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China added 0.19 percent, while China Life Insurance gained 0.15 percent, Ping An Insurance shed 0.70 percent, PetroChina lost 0.41 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) plummeted 6.75 percent, Gemdale jumped 1.92 percent, Poly Developments fell 0.51 percent, China Vanke skidded 1.51 percent and China Minsheng Bank, CITIC Securities, China Merchants Bank, Bank of China and China Construction Bank all were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks shook off heavy weakness on Thursday morning, skyrocketing off their worst levels of the day and into positive territory.

The Dow jumped 260.24 points or 1.14 percent to 23,138.69, while the NASDAQ added 25.14 points or 0.38 percent to 6,579.49 and the S&P 500 gained 21.13 points or 0.86 percent to 2,488.83.

The early weakness came as traders cashed in on Wednesday's surge, which saw the Dow record its biggest single-day gain ever. Lingering concerns about the global economic outlook may also have weighed - although the late-day rally came on further bargain hunting.

In economic news, the Conference Board noted a significant deterioration in consumer confidence in December. Also, the Labor Department saw a slight drop in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended December 22.

Crude oil futures declined sharply Thursday - one day after rebounding from 18-month lows. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for February ended down $1.61 or 3.5 percent at $44.61 a barrel.

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