KLCI extends gains as weaker ringgit spurs foreign buying

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KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 24): The FBM KLCI extended gains as the weaker ringgit spurred foreign institutional demand for Malaysian shares.

At 5pm, the KLCI rose 5.06 points or 0.28% to close at 1,819.10 points. Yesterday, the KLCI climbed 18.19 points or 1.01% to settle at 1,814.04.

Today, Bursa Malaysia saw 2.04 billion shares worth RM2.122 billion traded.

Gainers edged out decliners by 449 against 391, while 298 counters remained unchanged.

Gainers were led by British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and Hong Leong Capital Bhd.

Leading decliners included Rapid Synergy Bhd and Genting Plantations Bhd.

Top active stocks included Asia Bioenergy Technologies Bhd and Genetec Technology Bhd.

Jupiter Securities Sdn Bhd chief market strategist Benny Lee said the KLCI's momentum yesterday continued today.

“I think the institutions have started to pick up, especially the foreign institutions, and I guess because our market is underperforming against the other markets.

“With the weak ringgit, the valuation is cheaper compared to most of the markets in the region. That creates an opportunity for foreign investors to come and pick local stocks," Lee said.

The ringgit depreciated to 3.6660 against US dollar at the time of writing. Compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit weakened to 2.6807.

The ringgit had weakened in tandem with prices of crude oil, which constitutes a crucial component of Malaysia's economy.

Lee said the market was still cautious as investors were still anticipating crude oil prices to fall further.

“They are just waiting to see if crude oil prices stabilises or the whether the ringgit is stabilising against the US dollar,” he added.

Reuters reported that crude oil futures fell on Wednesday as more evidence emerged that China's strategic reserves could nearly be full and U.S. inventories were also ballooning.

Brent crude oil futures dropped 18 cents to $54.93 a barrel at 0812 GMT. U.S. WTI crude was down 36 cents at $47.15 per barrel.

Across Asian share markets, South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.07%, Japan's Nikkei 225 climbed 0.17% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.52%.

Reuters reported that Hong Kong shares ended mixed on Wednesday, with real estate shares rebounding but shares of most major Chinese companies falling in line with losses in mainland markets.