Asian markets up on US plan, BCHB, plantations up

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KUALA LUMPUR: Asian markets extended their rally at midday on March 24, underpinned by hopes over the US toxic-asset programme while at Bursa Malaysia, BCHB and plantations were higher and Maybank gave up part of recent gains. At 12.30pm, the KL Composite Index was down by 0.9 point to 877.4, off the early low of 875. Turnover was 441 million shares valued at RM605.9 million. There were 166 gainers, 244 losers and 194 counters unchanged. Light crude oil fell 15 cents to US$53.65 while crude palm oil shed RM8 to RM2,022. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 2.5% to 1,705.37, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 1.6% to 13,661.26 while the Nikkei 225 added 1.52% to 8,340. 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. At Bursa Malaysia, there was some profit taking after the previous day’s of strong gains, the most in recent weeks, but the market sentiment was still firm. BAT fell the most, down 25 sen to RM45.25, DiGi fell 20 sen to RM21.20, Taliworks 17 sen to RM1.52, while Hume Industries lost 11 sen to RM2.59. Dominant lost 29 sen to 31 sen, Amtel 17 sen to 41 sen, CWorks 16.5 sen to RM2.78. EON Cap fell 11 sen to RM2.78, Maybank fell 10 sen to RM4.48 and Public Bank 10 sen also to RM7.45. BCHB rose 25 sen to RM6.80 and Public Bank foreign 10 sen to RM7.55. Nestle was the  top gainer, adding 25 sen to RM29, Toyo Ink 19 sen to RM1.19, BHIC 18 sen to RM2.60. Plantation and related stocks rose, with Kulim-WB adding 13 sen to RM2.68, KL Kepong 10 sen to RM10.70, Kwantas nine sen to RM1.80 and IOI Corp eight sen to RM3.98.