KLCI up as banking stocks gain traction

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 20): The FBM KLCI rose 2.66 points or 0.2% as index-linked banking stocks like CIMB Group Holdings Bhd and Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) gained traction on analysts' favourable  reviews.

At 5pm, the KLCI settled at 1,741.61 points after falling to its intraday low at 1,736.40 points. CIMB shares rose two sen to RM5.50, Maybank climbed three sen to RM9.08 while RHB Bank Bhd added 16 sen to RM5.28 to become Bursa Malaysia's seventh-largest gainer.

Across Bursa Malaysia, 2.64 billion shares worth RM2.24 billion were traded. There were 498 gainers and 368 decliners.

Etiqa Insurance and Takaful research head Chris Eng told theedgemarkets.com: “The (KLCI's) rebound was led by finance stocks after some brokers upgraded their calls on CIMB and Maybank. As long as the US market does not fall, there will be room for the Malaysian market to grow.

“So far, no clear signal that it (US market) is going to fall, but looks like it is going to happen, partly due to profit taking and their corporate earnings have been patchy,” Eng said.

Malaysian shares tracked Asian equity gains. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.97% while South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.5%.

Reuters reported that Asian stocks erased early losses and edged higher on Thursday as steadying commodity prices, especially crude oil, prompted some bargain hunting by investors.

But markets cautiously stuck to well-worn trading ranges ahead of global risk events such as the first-round of French presidential elections at the weekend and continued tensions over North Korea.