The Thai stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last four trading days, since the end of the three-day winning streak in which it had gathered more than 20 points or 2 percent. The Stock Exchange of Thailand finished just below the 990-point plateau, and now analysts are predicting another slightly higher open on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is fairly flat with a touch of upside, thanks to continued good news among corporate earnings. Technology stocks may provide support, while gold, steel and oil shares may fall under pressure. The European and U.S. stocks finished slightly higher, and now the Asian markets are tipped to also inch slightly to the upside.
The SET finished flat on Thursday as the energy stocks and financials finished in mixed fashion.
For the day, the index added 0.69 points or 0.07 percent to finish at 988.80 after trading between 988.60 and 993.64. Volume was 3.219 billion shares worth 31.699 billion baht. There were 177 decliners and 160 gainers, with 155 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, energy giant PTT was down 0.65 percent, while PTT Exploration and Productionclimbed 1.2 percent, coal producer Banpu added 1.88 percent and Siam Concrete gained 0.31 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is cautiously optimistic as stocks were able to salvage some of their early-day upside and ended modestly higher on Thursday. Upbeat sentiment won over on a day offering solid quarterly results from a number of Dow components among many other reporting firms.
Among the day's major earnings reports, fast food giant McDonald's Corp. (MCD), farm & construction machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and insurance firm Travelers (TRV) all beat profit and revenue expectations, leading stocks higher in early day trading.
Global shipping firm United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) also bested third quarter net income estimates but fell short on the revenue line. However, the company raised its full-year 2010 guidance, based on the projections of retailers and economists before the peak holiday season.
Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. said its third-quarter profit increased by 16 percent over last year, as more customers tend to shop online. Quarterly earnings came ahead of the analysts' expectations, as did net sales.
Flash memory card maker SanDisk Corp. said third quarter profit rose 39 percent from last year, helped by higher revenue and improved margins. The company's quarterly earnings per share also breezed past Wall Street expectations.
American Express Co., Thursday reported a 70 percent increase in third quarter profit that exceeded Wall Street estimates, helped essentially by increased card members' spending. Revenues for the quarter rose 17 percent from a year ago, coming in ahead of expectations.
On the economic front, data was largely in-line with estimates, with the closely watched jobless claims number issued by the Labor Department falling by slightly more than economists had projected. The report showed a decline in claims for first-time unemployment benefits of 23,000 to 452,000 for the week ended October 16, while economists expected the figure to come in at 455,000.
Also, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported a positive reading in its October manufacturing activity index, the first positive number for the index in three months. The reading, however, was short of economist expectations. At the same time, the Conference Board reported that its index of leading economic indicators increased in-line with expectations in September.
The major averages all saw some upside in late-session dealing, all able to break into positive territory. The Dow gained 38.60 points or 0.4 percent to close at 11,146.57, the NASDAQ advanced by 2.28 points or 0.1 percent to 2,459.67 and the S&P 500 rose by 2.09 points or 0.2 percent to 1,180.26.