David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index, thinks the market is awaiting a significant event to signal that either the end of the recession is truly in sight, or that the bottom seen in March was just a temporary stop before the next plunge.
"With a couple of weeks till the release of the next set of unemployment numbers out of the U.S., it looks like the jury could still be out for some time yet," he said.
Swiss bank Credit Suisse AG ignited some hopes Thursday that the banks can quickly recover after it reported a first-quarter net profit of 2 billion Swiss francs ($1.72 billion), following a turnaround in its investment bank, which had previously been hit hard by the credit crunch. The figure was better than analysts' expectations for a net profit of up to 1 billion francs and compared with a net loss of 2.15 billion francs in the same quarter last year.
Earlier, Asia's markets advanced but trade was cautious amid ongoing worries about banks following Morgan Stanley's results. Reports that Nomura Holdings, Japan's leading brokerage, has incurred a record net loss of 700 billion yen ($7 billion) in the last fiscal year did not help change that view.