KLCI higher after volatile trade, ringgit strengthens

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 10): The FBM KLCI rose 1.32 points or 0.1% after vacillating between gains and losses as investors eyed weaker US economic data and anticipated Malaysia's second quarter gross domestic product (GDP) numbers.

At 5pm, the KLCI closed at 1,673.03 points as investors reacted to weaker US productivity data as they anticipated Malaysia's GDP numbers this Friday.

Reuters reported that the US Labor Department said on Tuesday that productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, dropped at a 0.5% annual rate in the April–June period, extending the longest decline since 1979.

The dollar sagged against its peers early on Wednesday after downbeat data sapped some of the momentum it had gained from last week's robust US jobs report.

In Malaysia, Areca Capital Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Danny Wong told theedgemarkets.com that there was no strong signal from US economic data, which had been closely watched for clues on the country's interest rate direction.

"US employment rate improved but worker productivity fell. (In Malaysia), the GDP for the second quarter is expected to be disappointing. But it will be better in the second half," Wong said.

The ringgit strengthened against a weakening US dollar as the latest US productivity data led to expectation that the US will take a longer time to raise interest rates.

The ringgit appreciated to 3.9883 against the US dollar after trading between 3.9868 and 4.0293 today.

Across Bursa Malaysia, 2.37 billion shares valued at RM1.76 billion were traded. Gainers beat decliners at 436 against 358.

Top gainer was British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd while top decliner was Apex Healthcare Bhd. The most-active counter was TH Heavy Engineering Bhd.