KLCI up in cautious sentiment on US losses, Anwar's conviction appeal

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 10): The FBM KLCI rose amid cautious sentiment after overnight US market losses and ahead of a crucial court decision on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's appeal against his sodomy conviction.

At 9:02am, the KLCI rose 1.22 points or 0.1% to 1,812.80 on gains in stocks like Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd.

Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd analyst Nick Foo Mun Pang said the KLCI was "expected to mirror yesterday’s volatile trading pattern."

Foo said investors would closely watch China's economy and Greece's debt. In Malaysia, the current financial reporting season and today's court decision on Anwar's appeal are expected to affect market sentiment, according to the analyst.

"Nevertheless, downside risks will be cushioned by recent recovery of crude oil prices and ringgit against the greenback coupled with positive expectation of (Malaysia's) 2014 GDP announcement (12 Feb)," Foo wrote in a note today.

Bursa Malaysia saw some 59 million shares worth RM26 million changed hands. There were 102 gainers versus 73 decliners.

The top gainer was Heveaboard Bhd while the leading decliner was Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd. The most-active stock was Perisai Petroleum Teknologi Bhd.

Higher crude oil prices have supported the ringgit. The ringgit's strength hinges on prices of crude oil, which constitutes a major portion of the Malaysian economy.

Reuters reported that crude oil pulled back a little but retained the bulk of gains from a rally over the past three sessions. It jumped on Monday as Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) forecasted greater demand for crude this year than previously thought and projected less supply from countries outside the producer group.

US crude oil was down 0.6 percent at US$52.57 a barrel after gaining 2.3 percent overnight.

At 8:43am today, the ringgit was firmer versus the US dollar at 3.5595, and compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit changed hands at 2.6301.

Across Asian stock markets, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.44% while South Korea's Kospi pared gains for a 0.08% rise.

Bloomberg reported that Asian stocks fell for a fourth day, tracking declines in U.S. markets, as Greece’s rejection of the country’s bailout program spurred concern about euro-area stability.