KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 23): The FBM KLCI rose to close four points or 0.25% higher on Monday amid thin volumes, buoyed mainly by foreign buying of stocks as part of year-end window-dressing activities.
The benchmark index finished well above its 1,600 psychological level at 1,614.18 at 5pm today, despite retreating from Friday's sharp gains earlier in the day to touch a low of 1,601.23.
Hong Leong Bank Bhd led component stocks with a 2.09% gain, followed by MISC Bhd at 1.91% and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd at 1.84%. Meanwhile, decliners included IOI Corp Bhd and PPB Group Bhd, which closed down 4.56% and 0.7% respectively.
Market breadth was positive with more gainers than losers at 432 versus 424 at the end of today's trading session. Total turnover stood at 1.96 billion shares worth RM1.45 billion, versus 2.17 billion shares, worth RM2.39 billion, traded last Friday.
The counters with most shares traded today were oil and gas stocks, namely Bumi Armada Bhd and Sapura Energy Bhd.
Meanwhile, Brahim's Holdings Bhd, although closing only half a sen higher at 32.5 sen, saw 36.63 million of its shares traded on news that the company had signed a heads of agreement (HoA) with frozen food manufacturer MRI VC Bhd for the latter to acquire a substantial stake in the former.
When contacted, Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd research head Pong Teng Siew attributed the gain in the benchmark index to gains in financial stocks, besides other energy and consumer product counters.
"It would appear that foreigners are doing their buying in the last couple of trading days for the year, which goes to explain the index gain despite the fall in other stocks across the bourse," he explained.
Asian markets idled on Monday as trading volumes weakened ahead of the Christmas holiday break, Reuters reported.
The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index rose 0.13% while South Korea's Kospi finished 0.02% lower, and Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 0.02% at market close.
However, in China, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index lost 1.4%, its worst single-day drop in six weeks, weighed down by a correction in tech shares after the National Integrated Circuitry Investment Fund planned to cut its stakes in some of these companies, while focus remained on the Sino-US trade deal.
Bursa Malaysia remains open for trading tomorrow (Dec 24) before closing for a day only on Dec 25 in conjunction with Christmas Day.