KUALA LUMPUR (March 22): The FBM KLCI closed up three points or 0.18% today at 1,666.66 after the index rebounded at the 11th hour, buoyed by sharp increases in component stocks including Maxis Bhd and Petronas Gas Bhd.
At 5pm, Maxis closed up 23 sen at RM5.56 while Petronas Gas added 16 sen to RM17.86.
The KLCI closed higher after staying in negative territory for most of the day. The index, which opened higher, had risen to its intraday high at 1,673.45 before falling to its intraday low at 1,657.01.
Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd research head Pong Teng Siew told theedgemarkets.com today the continued decline in banking stocks weighed on the KLCI. Pong however said the fall in banking shares was not as significant as that of the previous day.
“Banking stocks continued to fall but it was not an outright disaster. There does not seem to be much reason for a further selldown given that oil prices are steady, so I think things will pick up next week,” he said.
Yesterday, the KLCI slid 20.55 points or 1.22% as investors sold banking shares on expectations that Bank Negara Malaysia may cut interest rates amid lower domestic consumer prices and following the US Fed's announcement of a more dovish monetary stance.
KAF-Seagroatt & Campbell Securities Sdn Bhd analyst Rachel Huang wrote in a note yesterday: "The latest macro news that the US Federal Reserve may take a more accommodative stance on interest rates has now led to new possibility of a interest rate cut on the domestic front. The last time the policy rate was changed was slightly more than a year ago, when there was a 25bps hike in overnight policy rate in January 2018. Prior to this, there was an unexpected rate cut of 25bps in mid-2016.
"We believe sentiments on banks (in Malaysia) were also likely affected by the unexpected turn in direction of interest rate expectations, given that just a year ago, the market was expecting ongoing rate hikes. Overall, we remain cautious on the sector. Maintain Neutral," Huang said.
Across Bursa Malaysia today, 2.75 billion shares worth RM2.13 billion were traded. Leading gainers included Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd, Maxis and Petronas Gas.
The most-actively traded stocks included Berjaya Corp Bhd, Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd and Sapura Energy Bhd.