#Stocks to watch:* Banks, plantations, Gamuda

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KUALA LUMPUR: The local stock market had one of its best run since January this year, powered by a confluence of positive news and also underpinned by the smooth transition in the country’s leadership. Expectations are that the run could continue on April 3, especially with the US stocks charging ahead as more data pointed to a stabilizing US economy and changes to an accounting rule were seen as shoring up the volatile financial sector in the short term. Datuk Seri Najib Razak is scheduled to take over as Prime Minister from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Najib will be sworn in as the sixth PM at 10am after the  Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin consented to Najib’s appointment yesterday. A rally in commodities, including crude palm oil prices, also provided support to the local stock market. Market sentiment is expected to be firm as stocks to watch would be banks, plantations, bigger and smaller capitalised stocks and also infrastructure stocks including Gamuda and IJM. Banks including Maybank, BCHB, Public Bank would continue to see trading interest as funds would want exposure in these large cap stocks, especially to ride on a recovery in the economy. Among plantations, IOI Corp and KL Kepong would be in focus and interest could also spill over to smaller plantation stocks. AmResearch had recommended investors “overweight” onn plantation stocks due to the improving supply-demand dynamics and marginal rise in soybean planting.Fraser & Neave Holdings opened a new RM25 million warehouse in Kuching in anticipation of growing demand for its products in Sabah and Sarawak. The new warehouse would more than triple its warehousing capacity to 600,000 cases from a previous capacity of 180,000 cases in East Malaysia. WCT has seen a major shareholder, the Employees Provident Fund Board, raising its stake to 176.04 million shares or 22.81% after acquiring 430,800 shares on March 25. Also on the acquisition trail was the Goldman Sachs Group which bought 13.37 million shares in Berjaya Corp and raised its stake to 338.97 million shares or 10.73%. Boustead expects to net around RM500 million to RM600 million from the disposal of low yielding or non performing assets, including its 80% stake in BH Insurance (M) Bhd and some property land bank this fiscal year. Hektar saw the Arisaig Asean Fund selling 1.81 million shares from March 18 to 31 and reduced its stake to 16.24 million shares or 5.08%. Can-One and Kian Joo could see some interest over the alleged controversy involving the acquisition of a strategic stake by Can-One in Kian Joo. Export numbers for February will be out today.