Market up ahead of 'mother of all elections'

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 8): Malaysian stocks closed higher today as market participants gear up for the 14th General Election tomorrow, billed as the "mother of all elections".

After being in the red for four consecutive days, the benchmark FBM KLCI closed up 18.31 points or 1% at 1,846.51, supported by gains in banking stocks. The index was trading in the range of 1,819.28 to 1,851.73 points.

Areca Capital Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Danny Wong Teck Meng told theedgemarkets.com that he is "equally surprise" at the gains on Bursa Malaysia today.

"After a few days of foreign selling, selling pressure is gone for the purpose of political risk management," said Wong, adding that the gains could be due to institutional buying.

Meanwhile, Frank Lin, a dealer's representative at Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd, opined that the reversed trend today could be due to the general public sentiment that "the incumbent government or Barisan Nasional will have the upper hand".

"Buyers are probably anticipating that there won't be any change in GE14," he said, adding that there could be a possibility that local funds or local institutions also played a role in supporting the market.

Shares of Eden Inc Bhd and Thriven Global Bhd, which are linked to Datuk Fakhri Yassin Mahiaddin, who is the son of former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, rose as much as 53.57% and 43.59% respectively in early trade. Shares in Eden and Thriven pared some gains to close at 17 sen and 25 sen respectively at market close.

Opcom Holdings Bhd, which is controlled by Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir, also saw its shares surge as much as 52.81% in early trade. The stock closed 35.96% higher at 60.5 sen, emerging as the seventh most active counter on Bursa.

Trading volume increased to 2.35 billion shares worth RM2.8 billion compared with Monday's 1.92 billion shares worth RM2.09 billion. Gainers outstripped losers by 677 to 281, while 405 counters remained unchanged.

The banks, which include RHB Bank Bhd, CIMB Group Holding Bhd and Malayan Banking Bhd, were among the index-linked heavyweights that led today's gains.

Bursa Malaysia's small-cap index rose 159.41 points or 1.11% to settle at 14,551.81 points, while the FBM ACE Index grew as much as 99.8 points or 1.95% to close at 5,212.33 points.

Across in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.18%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 1.36%, while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.47%.