KLCI claws above 1,800pts on plantation stocks as ringgit strengthens

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 13): The FBM KLCI clawed above 1,800 points as plantation shares provided lift amid choppy intraday trades. The ringgit rose amid higher crude oil prices.

Reuters reported that Malaysian palm oil futures briefly touched a five-week top on Wednesday on worries an El Nino weather pattern would curb yields.

At the 5pm closing bell, the KLCI rose 4.41 points or 0.2% to 1,803.02 points. Stocks such as IOI Corp Bhd, PPB Group Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd contributed gains to the index.

Areca Capital chief executive officer Danny Wong told theedgemarkets.com the KLCI received “positive interest” in plantation stocks.

“The index yo-yo for much of today,” he said, noting China’s economy should be closely watched going forward.

Reuters reported Asian shares advanced on Wednesday despite another set of disappointing Chinese economic reports, as investors instead focused on hopes of further stimulus from Beijing to prevent a sharper slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

China's factory output rose a less-than-expected 5.9% in April compared with the same period last year, boosting bets the government will have to step up its efforts to shore up the sputtering economy in order to meet its gross domestic product target. Fixed-asset investment and retail sales also fell short of expectations.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.71% while South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.83% higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.39% lower.

Despite Malaysian share gains, Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd research head Low Yee Huap said the market lacked upside catalysts.

Low said a crucial indicator was Bursa Malaysia's low share-trade volume.

“It is just drifting. It’s not going anywhere and nothing big is really happening,” Low told theedgemarkets.com over telephone today.

Bursa Malaysia 1.69 billion shares worth RM2.01 billion were traded. Market gainers beat decliners by 420 versus 355 while 323 counters were unchanged.

The top gainer was Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd, while the leading decliner was Petronas Dagangan Bhd. The most-active counter was Kanger International Bhd.

Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd rose 90 sen or 6% to close at RM15.50 after its group managing director said the Islamic insurer expected a record performance in the current financial year.

In currency markets, the ringgit strengthened to 3.5968 against the US dollar and 2.7021 versus the Singapore dollar.

Reuters reported that the ringgit rose as stronger oil prices eased concerns that lower crude prices may hurt the country's fiscal and trade account. Malaysia is a net oil exporter.