KUALA LUMPUR: Asian markets were higher at the midday break on April 6, boosted by comments from US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that policies to help the credit market were working.Sentiment was also given a boost after HSBC investors bought 96.6 percent of the shares offered in its record 12.9 billion pound (US$18.9 billion) rights issue. HSBCsold 4.89 billion shares with existing shareholders and expects to sell the 172.7 million shares not taken on April 6, to raise 12.5 billion pounds net of expenses.At Bursa Malaysia, the KL Composite Index rose 17.71 points or 1.95% to 924.72, underpinned by the smooth political transition. This morning’s gains were the most since April 2. Turnover was 531 million shares valued at RM664 million. There were 381 gainers, 117 losers and 135 counters unchanged. Among Asian markets, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.93% to 8,918.91 while Singapore’s Straits Times Index 1.9% to 1,855.31 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index 3.4% to 15,039.69. Light crude oil rose 99 cents to US$53.50 but crude palm oil futures slipped RM18 to RM2,110. RHB Research Institute said although its fundamental view of the plantation sector remains a Neutral, it believed that in this volatile market, trading was the key strategy for the highly weighted plantation sector. “We believe that of late, the volatilities in crude oil prices as well as other soft commodity prices are not necessarily all attributable to fundamental industry changes or developments. “We believe financial demand has once again started to play a role in price movements of commodities, as risk appetite increases and builds up momentum,” it said. Among plantation stocks, KL Kepong rose 40 sen to RM11.20, Batu Kawan added 30 sen to RM8.30 and IOI Corp 14 sen to RM4.24 and United Plantations added 10 sen to RM10.30. Among bank stocks, BCHB rose 25 sen to RM7.80, RHB Capital 14 sen to RM3.78 and Hong Leong Finance 12 sen to RM4.98. Shell, MISC and MISC-F rose 20 sen each to RM9.85, RM8.70 and RM8.80 while also 20 sen higher was DiGi to RM21.70. Axiata added 16 sen to RM2.65. IGB rose 11 sen to RM1.49, the most since early last year on an AmResearch report. AmResearch said it was re-initiating coverage on IGB with a BUY, and fair value of RM2 per share - based on 50% discount to its estimated net asset value of RM4 a share after its recent company visit. The research house said with Mid Valley City approaching completion, IGB may look to “streamline” ownership structure of its prime investment properties (more than six million sq ft) held under IGB and KrisAsset. “This should presage eventual establishment of a REIT to underpin transparency of maturing rental income," it said. KNM was the most active with 25.2 million shares done, rising one sen to 44 sen, Resorts six sen to Rm2.29 and AirAsia 8.5 sen to RM1.08. Lion Industries rose 4.5 sen to 70.5 sen and Lion Diversified 2.5 sen to 29.5 sen. Wijaya lost 15 sen to 33 sen, Suiwah fell 12 sen to RM1.05 and Taliworks eight sen to RM1.70. QSR fell eight sen to RM2.76 and Krisasset six sen to RM2.48.
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