World Markets

Singapore Stock Market May Test Resistance At 3,200 Points

( - The Singapore stock market has finished higher in five straight sessions, climbing more than 170 points or 5.5 percent along the way. The Strait Times Index now rests just beneath the 3,185-point plateau and it's called to open higher again on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat on optimism over the outlook for rate hikes and continued support from crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were up and the Asian bourses are tipped to open in similar fashion.

The STI finished modestly higher on Thursday following gains from the financial shares, plantation stocks and industrials.

For the day, the index advanced 25.44 points or 0.81 percent to finish at the daily high of 3,183.51 after moving as low as 3,147.71. Volume was 1.3 billion shares worth 1.11 billion Singapore dollars. There were 229 gainers and 146 decliners.

Among the actives, Golden Agri-Resources surged 4.00 percent, while Thai Beverage soared 3.85 percent, CapitaLand spiked 2.51 percent, SingTel jumped 2.36 percent, SembCorp Industries climbed 1.89 percent, Wilmar International advanced 1.88 percent, CapitaLand Mall Trust tumbled 1.69 percent, Comfort DelGro perked 1.38 percent, United Overseas Bank gathered 0.98 percent, Genting Singapore added 0.97 percent, DBS Group collected 0.83 percent, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding gained 0.78 percent, Ascendas REIT rose 0.75 percent, Keppel Corp was up 0.65 percent and Hutchison Port Holdings, Singapore Exchange and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks shook off early weakness Thursday to finish higher for the fifth straight session.

The Dow added 122.80 points or 0.51 percent to 24,001.92, while the NASDAQ gained 28.99 points or 0.42 percent to 6,986.07 and the S&P rose 11.68 points or 0.45 percent to 2,596.64.

The initial weakness on Wall Street came as traders cashed in on recent strength after trade talks between the U.S. and China showed no significant breakthroughs. Selling pressure waned shortly thereafter as traders remain optimistic the U.S. and China will eventually reach a long-term trade deal.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department reported a bigger than expected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended January 5.

Traders also followed remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who reiterated the Fed will be patient in raising interest rates further, noting the central bank is waiting and watching.

Crude oil futures ended higher on Thursday, extending gains to a ninth successive session on reports of declines in crude output from OPEC and other major producers. Crude oil futures ended $0.23 or 0.4 percent at $52.59 a barrel.

Closer to home, Singapore will see November data for retail sales later today; in October, sales were up 0.4 percent on month and 0.1 percent on year.

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