KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 25): The FBM KLCI rose 8.82 points or 0.5% to its intraday high after an 11th-hour surge helped by banking share gains. Banking stocks climbed after Bank Negara Malaysia raised the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points (bps) to 3.25% today.
At 5pm, the KLCI closed at 1,845.86 points. Bursa Malaysia's finance index rose 163.61 points or 0.94% to 17,556.50 points. Across Bursa Malaysia, 2.96 billion shares worth RM2.85 billion were traded.
Among KLCI-linked banking stocks, Public Bank Bhd closed 24 sen higher at RM21.20 while Hong Leong Bank Bhd rose 14 sen to RM18.14. Public Bank and Hong Leong Bank were the fourth and eighth-largest gainers respectively across Bursa Malaysia.
Malacca Securities Sdn Bhd senior analyst Kenneth Leong told theedgemarkets.com that the KLCI closed sharply higher, "lifted by buying support in the majority of the banking heavyweights after Bank Negara raised the benchmark interest rate by 25 bps to 3.25%."
Higher crude oil prices and a stronger ringgit also drove the Malaysian stock market higher. At 5:35pm, the ringgit appreciated to its strongest level against the US dollar so far today at 3.8885 as crude oil prices topped US$70 a barrel.
Reuters reported that Brent oil prices hit US$71 per barrel on Thursday for the first time since 2014 as the dollar continued to weaken and crude inventories in the United States fell for a 10th straight week, amid ongoing supply cutbacks by OPEC and top producer Russia.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, hit a session high of US$71.05 per barrel — the highest since early December 2014 — before dipping back to US$70.86 by 0801 GMT. That was still up 32 cents, or 0.5 percent from the last close.