KLCI gains 9.1 points as HSBC, UBS upgrades seen bolstering sentiment

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 29): The FBM KLCI closed up 9.1 points or 0.56% today, led by Tenaga Nasional Bhd's share price rise and amid apparent optimism on the defensive nature of Malaysian stocks after HSBC and UBS upgraded their calls on local equities amid global trade war concerns.
 
At 5pm, the KLCI closed at 1,623.67 while Tenaga rose 66 sen or 5.66% to RM12.32 to become the top percentage gainer among the KLCI's 30 stocks. The KLCI exended gains today after yesterday's 13.22-point rise.

CNBC reported today that Swiss financial giant UBS said today it upgraded Malaysian stocks to “overweight” from “neutral.” It was reported that HSBC had yesterday raised its recommendation on Malaysian equities to “neutral” from “underweight."

Today, Adrian Zuercher, head of asset allocation for Asia-Pacific at UBS Chief Investment Office Wealth Management, was quoted as telling CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that “we’re looking for defensive markets, safety. And I think that’s what we want to be positioned in the next couple of months”.

HSBC was quoted as saying in its report that the Malaysian economy appeared resilient with domestic demand strong and manufacturing growth holding up.

"Low earnings growth is a concern but we see limited further downside. Valuations, while not as attractive as other markets in the region, are not particularly expensive. The market has strong defensive qualities, which should reduce downside risks if trade tensions escalate,” HSBC was quoted as saying.

Such defensive sentiment helped Malaysian shares buck the decline in Asian equities as investors evaluated the impact of the US-China trade war on world economic growth.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 1.21% while South Korea's Kospi fell 1.25%.

In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng sank 0.57% while the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite erased losses for a 0.16% gain.

Reuters reported that Asian shares fell on Wednesday and bonds rallied as investor sentiment soured over growing worries about world growth with trade tensions between the US and China showing no signs of easing. It was reported that MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.5% after three straight days of gains.