KLCI higher on overnight US share gains, firmer ringgit

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KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 17): The FBM KLCI closed 7.33 points or 0.41% higher as Asian markets rose following overnight US share gains.

Malaysia's KLCI ended at 1787.87 points at 5pm today on gains in stocks like PPB Group Bhd and Petronas Gas Bhd.

A remisier told theedgemarkets.com, “The KLCI has gone up today because of the positive movement in the US market overnight.

“Foreigners are still net sellers and investors everywhere remains very cautious of the KLCI,” he said.

Regional indices were generally upbeat. Japan’s Nikkei advanced 0.99%, South Korea’s Kospi was up 2.14% while Australia’s ASX gained 0.77%

Reuters reported that Asian shares rose on Tuesday, following Wall Street's lead, as investors speculated that weaker-than-expected U.S. data could prompt the Federal Reserve to express caution this week on the timing of a future rate hike.

The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to begin its two-day policy meeting later on Tuesday, and many analysts had expected the central bank to drop the word "patient" from its formal statement on the timing of its first interest rate increase since 2006.

Economists polled by Reuters were almost evenly split on whether a rate increase will come in June or later in the year.

Such sentiment had curbed the US dollar's strength. The ringgit was traded firmer versus the US dollar at 3.6965.

Compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit was also stronger at 2.6610.

Across Bursa Malaysia, 2.49 billion shares valued at RM1.84 billion were traded. There were 347 gainers today, 490 decliners while 315 counters were unchanged.

Gainers were led by Nestle (M) Bhd, Shangri-La Hotels (M) Bhd and PPB. Major decliners included British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and Kluang Rubber Co (M) Bhd.

The most actively traded stock today was Eti Tech Corp Bhd, which saw some 416 million shares changed hands.

Bursa Malaysia had earlier today issued an unusual market activity query on the rise in Eti Tech's share trading volume. The stock fell two sen or 16% to end the day at 10.5 sen.