Asian markets rally, BCHB leads at Bursa

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KUALA LUMPUR: Asian markets rallied in the morning session on March 24, riding on the wave of optimism in the US after a plan to purge toxic assets from bank balance sheets, fuelling optimism about a revival in bank lending and driving double-digit gains in financial shares. However, at Bursa Malaysia, investors took a breather after the sharp run-up the previous day to lock in gains. At 11am, the KL Composite Index was in negative territory, down 1.6 points to 876.7. Turnover was 350 million shares valued at RM457.25 million. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 2.07% to 8,385.88 while Shanghai’s Composite Index added 0.99% to 2,348.48 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.34% to 13,628.21 and Singapore’s Straits Times Index 1.41% higher at 1,687.56. The Edge Financial Daily reported on March 24 on its page one about comments by top fund manager Mark Mobius that the next bull market rally has begun. He said there were bargains in every emerging market following a slump in stocks. Light crude oil eased 18 cents to US$53.62 while crude palm oil futures fell RM6 to RM2,024. The ringgit was firmer at 3.6263 against the US dollar. BAT was the top loser, down 25 sen to RM45.25, DiGi fell 20 sen to RM21.20 and Maybank 14 sen lower at RM4.40. EON Cap fell 12 sen to RM2.77, Public Bank and Tanjong 10 sen lower to RM7.45 and RM13.90. BCHB rose 25 sen to RM6.80. Nestle added 25 sen to RM29, BHIC 18 sen to RM2.60 while LPI and Petronas Dagangan added 10 sen each to RM8.96 and RM7.50. PMCap added nine sen to 18 sen.