FBM KLCI up after Malaysia announces GDP growth amid US inflation jitter

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14): The FBM KLCI gained 1.91 points or 0.1% after volatile trade as investors evaluated Malaysia's latest economic growth data while anticipating US inflation numbers. At 5pm, the KLCI settled at 1,834.93.

Earlier today,  Bank Negara Malaysia said Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017 from a year earlier, driven mainly by private sector demand with support from the external sector. In a statement, Bank Negara said 2017 full-year GDP grew 5.9% on year compared with the 4.2% expansion in 2016.

"The GDP data release only reinforced the market's perception that 2017 was a good year. However, it didn't spark any significant push in Bursa Malaysia as investors are still generally jittery ahead of the announcement of US inflation data," Public Investment Bank Bhd head of research Ching Weng Jin told theedgemarkets.com.

The US Jan 2018 inflation data is scheduled to be announced later today. Investors closely watch the US inflation data, which offers clues on the pace of US interest rate hikes.

Such sentiment was apparent across Asian markets today. Reuters reported that Asian share markets turned mixed on Wednesday as investor nerves were strained ahead of a US inflation report that could soothe, or inflame, fears of faster rate hikes globally.

It was reported that Japan's Nikkei share average dropped to a fresh four-month low in choppy trade on Wednesday as investor sentiment was sapped by worries about US inflation data. The Nikkei ended 0.4 percent lower to 21,154.17. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was up 2.27 percent at 30,515.60.