FBM KLCI climbs on bargain hunting as Asian stocks rise

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 12): The FBM KLCI climbed 6.65 points or 0.4% today to close at 1,671.28 on bargain hunting and as Asian stocks rose after the European Commission agreed to changes in an updated Brexit deal. Stronger oil prices spurred Malaysian oil and gas shares.

According to Kenny Yee, head of research at Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd, the KLCI closed up on bargain hunting today after the index fell 15.27 points yesterday.

Today, Yee told theedgemarkets.com: "I think oil and gas stocks are the flavour of the day or flavour of the week due to OPEC talks." He said this as crude oil prices rose, spurred by Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih's comment that an end to OPEC-led supply cuts was unlikely before June.

Across Bursa Malaysia today, trading volume stood at 3.02 billion shares with a value of RM2.1 billion. Oil and gas counters Sapura Energy Bhd, Bumi Armada Bhd and Velesto Energy Bhd were the most-actively traded stocks. Top gainers included KLCI stocks Public Bank Bhd and Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd.

Across Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed up 1.79%, South Korea's Kospi added 0.89% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.46%. Reuters reported that the pound and Asian shares jumped on Tuesday after the European Commission agreed to changes in a Brexit deal before a vote in the British parliament on a divorce agreement that has unnerved financial markets over recent months.

It was reported that European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to additional assurances in an updated Brexit deal with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, but warned UK lawmakers would not get a third chance to endorse it.

Across crude oil markets, it was reported that oil prices rose on Tuesday, as OPEC's de facto leader Saudi Arabia appeared to deepen the group's supply cuts aimed at tightening markets, although gains were capped by the ongoing surge in US supply and worries over the global economy.

It was reported that US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at US$57.08 per barrel at 0746 GMT, up 29 cents or 0.5% from their last settlement while Brent crude futures were at US$66.82 per barrel, up 24 cents or 0.4%.