(RTTNews.com) – The Singapore stock market has tracked to the downside now in four straight sessions, falling almost 45 points or 1.4 percent in that span. The Straits Times Index settled just below the 3,375-point plateau, although the market may find traction on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat thanks to a rebound in the price of crude oil on a weakening U.S. dollar. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourses were sharply higher – and the Asian markets are tipped to open in the green.

The STI finished slightly lower on Thursday, bucking the regional trend of gain as weakness from the financial shares was tempered by support from the plantations and airlines.

For the day, the index eased 4.99 points or 0.15 percent to finish at 3,373.60 after trading between 3,357.11 and 3,380.41. Volume was 1.27 billion shares worth 1.01 billion Singapore dollars. There were 228 decliners and 188 gainers, with 517 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, City Developments shed 0.49 percent, while Hongkong Land added 0.39 percent, DBS Group lost 0.36 percent, United Overseas Bank fell 0.40 percent, Wilmar International climbed 1.56 percent, Noble Group jumped 1.09 percent, SIA surged 2.41 percent and Singapore Exchange tumbled 0.51 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is firmly positive as stocks saw substantial strength on Thursday, one session after the major averages ended at their worst closing levels in a month.

The Dow jumped 259.83 points or 1.5 percent to 17,895.22, while the NASDAQ climbed 43.35 points or 0.9 percent to 4,893.29 and the S&P 500 surged 25.71 points or 1.3 percent to 2,065.95.

The rally followed a pullback by the U.S. dollar, which gave back ground following recent strength. Disappointing retail sales data weighed on the dollar, as the Commerce Department reported that retail sales fell for the third straight month in February.

Along with contributing to the pullback by the dollar, the retail sales data also offset some of the recent concerns about the outlook for interest rates.

Traders also reacted positively to news that the Federal Reserve gave several major banks approval to launch capital repurchase programs and dividend increases.

Closer to home, Singapore will release Q4 data for unemployment, with analysts expecting the jobless rate to hold steady at 1.9 percent.

Singapore also will see January numbers for retail sales, with analysts expecting a decline of 1.1 percent on month and an increase of 0.6 percent on year. That follows the 2.0 percent monthly drop and the 2.6 percent yearly gain in December.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com