Consumer stocks balk at the weak market as investors seek defensive stocks

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 5): Some consumer blue chips advanced on thin trades today as investors appeared to be seeking some respite from a broad-based selldown across Bursa Malaysia.

The uptrend indicates that investors are holding on to such blue chips given the uncertainties on the horizon, for instance the interest rate normalisation globally.

"Sectors such as consumer and healthcare have traditionally been seen as defensive," said Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Pong Teng Siew.

Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd (F&N), Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd and Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd all balked at the downward trend in the FBM KLCI to hit record highs this morning.

At 12.30pm, F&N gained 64 sen or 2.19% to trade at RM29.9, while Nestle was up 60 sen or 0.52% to trade at RM116.50. Dutch Lady had gained 40 sen or 0.63% to RM63.70.

Others that are on the uptrend include Petronas Dagangan Bhd, which had gained 42 sen or 1.65% to trade at RM25.90, whereas Heineken Malaysia Bhd had gained 30 sen or 1.57% to trade at RM19.42.

However, trades for these stocks were thin, with Nestle seeing 82,100 units traded, F&N seeing 104,700 units crossed and Dutch Lady seeing a mere 8,200 units exchanged.

According to Pong, not everyone seem convinced by this strategy as most funds are offloading across most sectors, in line with global and regional trends.

"I'd be hard-pressed to think the rally (in consumer stocks) is sustainable," he told, adding that investors seemed to be "selling first and asking questions later".