KLCI higher in volatile trade ahead of Bank Negara rate decision, ringgit weakens

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KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 4): The FBM KLCI rose sharply at the 11th hour for a 4.29 point or 0.24% gain after volatile trade ahead of Bank Negara Malaysia's monetary policy statement tomorrow.

The KLCI closed at 1,825.54 points, shored by rises in YTL Corp Bhd, SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd and PPB Group Bhd shares.

The ringgit weakened against world currencies ahead of Bank Negara's decision regarding the overnight policy rate tomorrow.

At 4.54pm, ringgit was traded at 3.6460 per US dollar. Compared to the Singapore dollar, the ringgit was traded at 2.6707.

Across Bursa Malaysia, decliners outnumbered gainers 473 to 345, while 308 counters were unchanged. Some 2.12 billion shares worth RM2.16 billion changed hands.

Top gainers included Guinness Anchor Bhd, Carlsberg Brewery (M) Bhd and PPB Group Bhd.

Actively-traded counters included Nexgram Holdings Bhd, Asio Bio Energy Technologies Bhd and Wintoni Group Resources Bhd.

Major decliners included British American Tobacco (M) Bhd and Genting Bhd.

Speaking to theedgemarkets.com, a remisier said the market had been quite flattish for the past few days in the absence of catalysts.

"Oil prices are still hovering around US$60 per barrel and the ringgit continues to weaken against US dollar", the remisier said.

The remisier said these factors had further dampened investor sentiment here.

Regional markets fell.Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 0.59% lower while South Korea's Kospi also was down 0.15%

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.96%.

Reuters reported that Asian shares fell on Wednesday as investors grew cautious before upcoming central bank meetings and U.S. jobs data, while India's central bank surprised with its second inter-meeting rate cut this year.

Investors remained cautious ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls report for February, which could provide clues about the timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate hike, the report added.