KUALA LUMPUR (May 18): The FBM KLCI rose 11.58 points or 0.64% to finish at its intraday high on expectation that weak US economic data will prompt policy makers to raise interest rates later than expected.
Current low US interest rates bode well for emerging markets like Malaysia, where interest rates are higher. The KLCI ended at 1,823.50 points on gains in stocks like Petronas Gas Bhd, PPB Group Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd, all of which were leading gainers across Bursa Malaysia.
Bursa Malaysia saw 2.2 billion shares, valued at RM1.78 billion traded. There were 459 gainers against 348 decliners while 301 counters remained unchanged.
Major decliners included British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and Oriental Holdings Bhd. The most actively-traded stock was Frontken Corp Bhd.
In currency markets, the ringgit weakened to 3.5685 against the US dollar and depreciated to 2.6992 versus the Singapore dollar.
Despite the KLCI's rise, fund managers said the Malaysian share market lacked domestic upside catalysts.
According to Areca Capital Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Danny Wong, there have not been major surprises so far from the ongoing corporate financial reporting season.
“If you look at the release of the corporations' quarterly financial information these few weeks, some have been disappointing, and some have been within expectations, and with the (weak) US data and an expected rate hike by the Federal Reserve somewhere in September to November this year, we expect the KLCI to continue to hover at levels of 1,800 plus points till things are more certain,” Wong told theedgemarkets.com
Across Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8% while South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.34%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.83%.
Reuters reported that while many investors stick to the view that the US economy will accelerate later this year, signs of weakness are a source of concern given many investors counted on US growth to lead the global economy as China slows down and many other major economies are in the doldrums.
US shares were helped by the weak data to some extent, as it reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will wait longer before raising interest rates. US interest rate futures priced in a rate hike toward the end of 2015.