KLCI flat on regional trend, oil prices curb index loss

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KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 26): The FBM KLCI ended flat amid volatile trade as regional markets fell.

Improvement in crude oil prices, however, curbed the KLCI's losses.

At 5pm, the KLCI declined 0.68 point or 0.04% to close at 1,818.42 point. The index, which opened in positive territory, had fallen to an intraday low of 1,815.41 before reducing losses.

Gains in oil and gas-related entities like Petronas Dagangan Bhd and SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd had helped the KLCI reduce losses.

"At the moment, the (crude oil) prices were mostly positive, but any sharp turn in prices could translate to volatility in our own market as well. This is something that needs to be watched daily.

“However, positive oil prices mean a strengthening of our ringgit against the US dollar, and a rebound for the oil & gas counters on Bursa. So indirectly, our market is being helped by this unfortunate situation,” a remisier told theedgemarkets.com.

Bursa Malaysia saw 2.44 billion shares worth RM1.955 billion traded. Gainers edged out decliners by 426 against 397, while 343 counters remained unchanged.

Top gainers included Nestle (M) Bhd and Super Enterprise Holdings Bhd.

Leading decliners included British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd.

Top active stocks included oil and gas-related entities like Sumatec Resources Bhd, KNM Group Bhd, which closed higher as crude oil prices advanced.

At the time of writing, the ringgit was traded at 3.6620 against the US dollar and compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit changed hands at 2.6836.

Across Asia, South Korea's Kospi ended 0.99% lower, Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.13% while Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.39%.

Reuters reported that Asian shares slipped on Thursday as tech-driven losses on Wall Street and escalating tensions in the Middle East provided a tailwind for oil prices and the safe haven yen.

Risk appetite took a knock from news Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies had launched air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters who have tightened their grip on the southern city of Aden. The potential threat to oil supplies from the Gulf was enough to boost U.S. crude $1.81 to $51.02, while Brent crude climbed $1.56 to $58.04 a barrel.