Markets drift sideways

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KUALA LUMPUR: There were little in terms fresh leads to cheer financial markets on Thursday. Asian stock markets traded mostly sideways, with increased selling pressure in the afternoon paring modest gains in the earlier part of the day.

The KL Composite Index, again, traded within a narrow band. As with key regional markets, the benchmark index was in positive territory in the morning session, but dipped into the red as the day progressed. But share prices, by and large, remained locked in tight trading ranges with investors staying mostly on the sidelines. The KLCI ended the day just three points lower at 893.4 points.Market breadth, on the other hand, was in the red for the better part of the day. At the close, losing counters outnumbered gaining ones by a ratio of roughly seven to five. Trading volume remained thin. Only 332 million shares changed hands Thursday. Some of the most actively traded counters were Compugates, KNM, Telekom Malaysia, Progressive Impact Corp and Resorts World.

Shares for Telekom closed 6 sen lower at RM3.50, giving back of some of its gains from the previous day. The company's proposed capital repayment of 98 sen per share spurred buying interest in the stock the day before.

Other notable losers include Loh & Loh, Tanjong plc, Nestlé, Bumiputra Commerce and Maybank. At the other end, some of the big gainers were KL Kepong, JT International, IJM and Panasonic Malaysia.

In other development, crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose above US$42 (RM153.30) per barrel on lower than expected increase in US inventory. The stronger crude oil market lent support to crude palm oil prices on the Bursa Derivatives. The benchmark futures traded above RM1,900 per tonne during the day, which in turn, bolstered investor interest in select plantation stocks.

Note: This report is brought to you by Asia Analytica Sdn Bhd, a licensed investment adviser. Please exercise your own judgment or seek professional advice for your specific investment needs. We are not responsible for your investment decisions. Our shareholders, directors and employees may have positions in any of the stocks mentioned.