KLCI flat after choppy trade ahead of US GDP

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 27): The FBM KLCI ended almost flat after choppy trade, as investors eyed the weak ringgit amid lower crude oil prices. Investors were also anticipating the revised US fourth quarter gross domestic product numbers, which will be announced later today.

Malaysia's KLCI closed 0.34 point or 0.02% higher at 1,821.21 points. Selected blue chips like Tenaga Nasional Bhd's gains had salvaged the index, which was trading mostly in the red today.

Inter Pacific Securities head of research Pong Teng Siew told theedgemarkets.com that the broader market’s overall sentiment was still positive, judging from the liquidity in the market. The small-to-mid cap stocks were the biggest beneficiaries, according to Pong.

However, he also wondered whether investors’ sentiment could continue to be positive, going forward. With the ringgit still weak and crude oil prices’ recovery anemic, he said the market was “lacking a sustainable theme”.

“The weak ringgit theme benefits technology stocks, where most of their products are exported. However, it’s not good for the overall market’s confidence,” he said over telephone.

The ringgit weakened against the US dollar at 3.6042 at 4:59pm. Compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit weakened to 2.6567.

Bursa Malaysia's trading volume was 2.21 billion shares, valued at RM2.73 billion. A total of 367 stocks closed higher, while 484 declined.

Today’s most-active entities include Nexgram Holdings Bhd, Wintoni Group Bhd and Hubline Bhd.

The biggest gainers included Petronas Dagangan Bhd and United Plantations Bhd. The worst decliners included Petronas Gas Bhd and Lafarge Malaysia Bhd.

Regional indices’ were mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.06%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.32%. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.37%

Reuters reported Asian shares were mostly lower on Friday, as a sharp overnight pullback in crude oil prices dampened risk appetite; while the dollar was firm, after upbeat U.S. data tilted expectations back toward an early interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Strong factory ouput data and a weaker yen pushed Tokyo's Nikkei to a fresh 15-year high; but the market was last flat, as profit-taking kicked in.