KLCI lifted by last-minute buying as Asian shares erase losses

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 20): The FBM KLCI rose 8.45 points or 0.5% after investors bought Malaysian blue chips including Public Bank Bhd and MISC Bhd shares at the eleventh hour. The KLCI had erased losses in tandem with Asian share markets as Bursa Malaysia's technology, REIT and small cap indexes closed in the red.

At 5pm, the KLCI closed at 1,856.39 after falling to its intraday low at 1,841.47. At 5pm, Public Bank shares climbed 40 sen to RM23.52 while MISC increased 25 sen to RM7.30 among Bursa Malaysia top gainers.

Bursa Malaysia top decliners included Nestle (M) Bhd, Ajinomoto (M) Bhd and KLCC Stapled Group. Among Bursa Malaysia indexes, the largest decliner was the technology index at 2.29% followed by the REIT index at 2.09%. The small cap index was 1.06% lower.

The KLCI had tracked Asian share gains. Loui Low, who is head of retail research at Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd, said positive sentiment was seen across major regional equity indexes in the second half of the day.

“However, (in Malaysia) the market remains cautious ahead of the announcement and schedule of the 14th general election,” he told theedgemarkets.com.

Across Asian share markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and South Korea's Kospi erased losses to close higher. Hang Seng rose 0.11% while Kospi climbed 0.42%.

Reuters reported that Asian shares were on the defensive on Tuesday after investors took profits in high-flying US technology shares on fears of stiffer regulation, as Facebook came under fire following reports it allowed improper access to user data.

The retreat came as investors braced for new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's first policy meeting starting later in the day and amid concerns that US President Donald Trump could impose additional punitive trade measures against China.