China Shares Draw Firm Lead For Friday

( - The China stock market has moved lower in consecutive trading days, surrendering more than 35 points or 1.2 percent along the way. The Shanghai Composite Index now rests just beneath the 3,045-point plateau although it's expected to bounce higher on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is cautiously optimistic thanks to encouraging economic news and a bump in crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were mostly higher and the Asian bourses figure to follow suit.

The SCI finished slightly lower on Thursday as losses from the oil companies were tempered by support from the financial sector.

For the day, the index sank 5.64 points or 0.18 percent to finish at 3,044.16 after trading between 3,032.41 and 3,066.05. The Shenzhen Composite Index fell 9.54 points or 0.55 percent to end at 1,721.89.

Among the actives, Bank of China collected 0.27 percent, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China added 0.72 percent, China Construction Bank perked 0.71 percent, China Merchants Bank shed 0.49 percent, China Life gained 0.37 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) lost 0.46 percent, PetroChina slid 0.51 percent and China Shenhua Energy was up 0.19 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is conflicted as the major averages were mixed on Thursday as the tech-heavy NASDAQ climbed to a new record closing high, while the Dow fell for the third straight day.

The Dow fell 25.89 points or 0.10 percent to 25,175.31, while the NASDAQ added 65.34 points or 0.85 percent to 7,761.04 and the S&P added 6.86 points or 0.25 percent to 2,782.49.

The support for the markets followed the release of a Commerce Department report showing a bigger than expected jump in retail sales in May. Also, the Labor Department noted a mild drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended June 9th.

Traders were also digesting the European Central Bank's monetary policy statement that revealed plans to wind down its massive bond-buying program. The ECB also left interest rates unchanged and said it expects rates to remain at their present levels for at least a year.

Crude oil futures inched higher Thursday, settling at a two-week high despite rumors that OPEC will ramp up production. The dollar strengthened a bit on the news, putting a cap on oil's advance.

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