FBM KLCI climbs 17.3 points as markets cheer US data

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 12): The FBM KLCI rose 17.3 points or 0.9% as global investors cheered the US' latest employment data, which had also eased concerns about US inflation and the pace of interest rate hikes there.

Reuters reported that inflation worries faded after US data showed nonfarm payrolls jumped by 313,000 jobs last month, but annual growth in average hourly earnings slowed after a spike in January. The pullback in wages tempered speculation the Federal Reserve would project four rate hikes — or dot plots — at its policy meeting next week, instead of the current three.

At Bursa Malaysia today, the KLCI ended at its intraday high at 1,861.22.  Across Asian stock markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.65%, South Korea's Kospi increased 1% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 1.93% higher.

In Malaysia, Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Pong Teng Siew told theedgemarkets.com: “Generally, the trading mood is very positive, consumer stocks have done best.” He pointed to Bursa Malaysia top gainer Nestle (M) Bhd shares which hit a fresh high today.

KLCI-linked Nestle shares rose RM5.50 to close at RM150.50 after the stock climbed to its fresh intraday high at RM150.80. Affin Hwang Investment Bank Bhd analyst Tan Jun Zhang said: “The share price movement is mainly driven by passive funds where they buy Nestle to track the index (KLCI)."

At 5pm, Bursa Malaysia top gainers included Petronas Gas Bhd and Petronas Dagangan Bhd. Hengyuan Refining Co Bhd led the decliners' list.