KLCI up 9.65pts on US monetary stance, stronger ringgit

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KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 19): The FBM KLCI rose 9.65 points or 0.54%, lifted by news US policy makers will raise interest rates gradually. Such sentiment had resulted in global fund flows into emerging Asian markets like Malaysia for better returns.

At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI settled at 1,807.22. The KLCI had risen on selected blue chips like Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) and Petronas Gas Bhd, besides a stronger ringgit.

"The local market should remain buoyant due to spillover from the overnight rally on Wall Street from optimism the US Federal Reserve will be more hesitant in raising interest rates," TA Securities Holdings Bhd said in a note.

The KLCI had pared gains after rising to an intraday high at 1,815.71.

Meanwhile, the ringgit strengthened after US crude oil prices rose in overnight trade on a weaker US dollar due to the US' monetary stance.

At the time of writing, the ringgit strengthened against the US dollar at 3.6770 and compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit was firmer at 2.6624.

According to Reuters, the dollar was giving ground in Asia on Thursday as investors priced in a later start and a slower pace for future U.S. rate rises, slashing bond yields globally and firing up stocks.

Bursa Malaysia saw 405 gainers and 267 decliners while 321 counters traded unchanged. Volume was 1.12 billion shares valued at RM802.9 million.

The top gainers on Bursa Malaysia included British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and KLK. Top decliners included Hong Leong Capital Bhd and Nestle (M) Bhd.

Actively-traded stocks included The Media Shoppe Bhd, Xinghe Holdings Bhd and Wintoni Group Bhd.

Across Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.45% while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.46%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.35%.

Bloomberg reported that Japan shares fell as a stronger yen countered optimism that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates more slowly than previously forecast.

A firmer yen does not augur well for Japanese exporters' shares, hence, the broader market decline.