KL Kepong, IOI Corp, Maybank higher

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KUALA LUMPUR: Firmer crude palm oil prices gave KL Kepong and IOI Corp a boost in early trade on March 23 while Maybank’s expectations of key business growth saw its share price extending its gains from last week. News that RM3.2 billion worth of contracts would be awarded this week as part of the RM60 billion mini-budget made a fortnight ago also gave the market a boost as analysts viewed the speedy rolling out of the stimulus measures as positive.Penny stocks, including MRCB, UEM Land and Tebrau Teguh, which are involved in the Iskandar Malaysia development, rose in active trade. At 10am, the KL Composite Index was up 4.48 points to 861. Turnover was 112.98 million shares valued at RM106.79 million.  There were 126 gainers, 67 losers and 99 counters. Asian markets were higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 1.98% to 8,103.62. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index opened 2.2% higher at 13,113.38 while Shanghai’s Composite Index added 0.35% to 2,289.05. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 1.42% to 1,619.59. The ringgit was quoted at RM3.6505 to the US dollar. Light crude oil advanced 47 cents to US$52.54. HwangDBS Vickers Research said the KLCI, which closed at its intra-week high of 856.82 on March 20, investors would probably be asking how much more upside potential is there in the KLCI and whether the market rebound is sustainable. “Our short answer is that the KLCI is expected to face short-term resistance (with 860 as its immediate barrier) while any market strength is unlikely to persist,” it said. It added that even in the U.S., the technical bounce-up on Wall Street seems to have run its course already, at least for the time being. On March 20, key US equity indices were down between 1.7% and 2.0% at the closing bell. On the RM3.2 billion projects, HwangDBS Vickers Research said the list of projects revealed so far – schools, police stations and others – suggested it may not create much impact on the share prices of big and mid-size listed construction companies ahead. Advancing stocks were KLK up 50 sen to RM10.50 and IOI Corp 10 sen to RM3.80. Maybank, which is holding an EGM for shareholders now, added eight sen to RM4.44.  Glove maker Hartalega rose eight sen to RM2.29. KNM was the most active with 16.6 million shares done, rising 2.5 sen to 38.5 sen.  MRCB rose four sen to 86 sen, UEM Land 3.5 sen to 71.5 sen and Tebrau Teguh two sen to 39 sen. TMI fell four sen to RM2.31 in active trade. Tanjong lost 10 sen to RM14.20, while Guinness, UMW and Green Packet gave up five sen each to RM5.55, RM5.25 and 95 sen respectively.