KLCI edges up, struggles to breach 1,700 level

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 19): The FBM KLCI struggled to breach the 1,700 level at mid-morning today as key momentum indicators remained bearish.

At 10am, the FBM KLCI was up 2.83 points to 1,693.76. The index had earlier risen to a high of 1,694.89.

Losers led gainers by 312 to 181, while 304 counters traded unchanged. Volume was 799.26 million shares valued at RM333.92 million.

The gainers included Magni-Tech Industries Bhd, Allianz Malaysia Bhd, Hong Leong Industries Bhd, Transocean Holdings Bhd, Nestle (M) Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Malaysian Pacific Industries Bhd, Rapid Synergy Bhd and Hong Leong Bank Bhd.

The actives included Sapura Energy Bhd, Eden Inc Bhd, Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd, Perdana Petroleum Bhd, Metronic Global Bhd, PUC Bhd, Sino Hua-An International Bhd and Orion IXL Bhd.

The decliners included Dayang, Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd, Keck Seng (M) Bhd and Naim Holdings Bhd.

Asian shares treaded water on Tuesday ahead of a US Federal Reserve (Fed) policy meeting, hovering near six-month highs, while sterling was choppy as the speaker of Britain's parliament banned another vote on same Brexit deal, according to Reuters.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was virtually flat, just a hair away from the highest level since Sept 21, it said.

Hong Leong IB Research said with the Dow heading towards the psychological level of 26,000 on the back of easing trade tensions, investors will be looking for more clues in the upcoming Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting for affirmation of the Fed's commitment towards a "patient" monetary policy.

"Should there be any negative surprises from the interest rate outlook and the potential slowdown in the economy, we anticipate the selling pressure may emerge on Wall Street.

"Broader market could turn sideways with the emergence of profit-taking activities across the small cap stocks and FBM Small Cap has pulled back marginally.

"Nevertheless, we opine that this retracement phase would be mild given that the upward rally has started since early March and will be [viewed] as healthy profit-taking mode. Meanwhile, the KLCI is likely to retest 1,700 with the positive short-term technical indicators, coupled with inflow of foreign participation over the past two trading days," it said.