KLCI rises 0.44% as banking stocks pick up following OPR hike

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 26): The FBM KLCI gained 0.44% as buying interest resumed during the second half of trading, with the banking sector picking up following the hike in the overnight policy rate (OPR) announced by the central bank yesterday.

The benchmark index closed 8.06 points or 0.44% higher at 1,853.92.

Hong Leong Investment Bank's head of retail research, Loui Low, said the market is still bullish, supported by foreign investors' interest as well as the gains in banking counters.

"The market is still positive especially with the support from foreign investors, especially in an environment where the ringgit is still strong. The pickup seen in the banking sector is also another catalyst as the OPR hike is expected to be mildly positive for some of the banks," Low said.

He pointed that companies like AirAsia X Bhd saw a lot of trading today as the market is positive of the stronger ringgit, which will be supportive of the airline company.

AirAsia X was the most active counter today with about 249 million shares traded. The stock jumped four sen or 10.1% to 43.5 sen.

Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd led the gainers with an increase of RM4 or 3.7% to RM111.50 while Panasonic Manufacturing Malaysia Bhd led decliners with a fall of 60 sen or 1.7% to RM35.84.

A total of 3.2 billion shares worth RM2.4 billion were traded. Across the board, decliners led gainers at 562 to 380 while 446 counters were traded unchanged.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei share average ended lower in choppy trade as investors locked in profits ahead of the weekend while mining shares and financial firms underperformed the market, said Reuters.