KLCI pares gains, struggles to breach 1,700 level

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 4): The FBM KLCI pared some of its gains at mid-morning today as the local index struggled to breach the 1,700-point level on a shorter trading day ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays.

At 10am, the FBM KLCI was up 8.35 points to 1,691.88. The index had earlier risen to a high of 1,699.66.

Gainers led losers by 266 to 193, while 259 counters traded unchanged. Volume was 369.53 million shares valued at RM218.47 million.

The top gainers included Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Hong Leong Industries Bhd, Public Bank Bhd, British American Tobacco (M) Bhd, Hong Leong Bank Bhd, Westports Holdings Bhd, Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd and Nestle (M) Bhd.

The actives included Bumi Armada Bhd, Tatt Giap Group Bhd, Sapura Energy Bhd, Iris Corp Bhd and Diversified Gateway Solutions Bhd.

The decliners included Petronas Dagangan Bhd, Petron Malaysia Refining & Marketing Bhd, PMB Technology Bhd, OSK Ventures International Bhd and KKB Engineering Bhd.

Asia stocks were barely moved on Monday, staying near a four-month high after Wall Street's tepid pre-weekend performance, while the US dollar was supported against the yen following strong US jobs and manufacturing data, according to Reuters.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was basically unchanged, capped below the four-month peak scaled on Friday, the newswire said.

Hong Leong IB Research (HLIB Research) said near-term Dow's prospects remain sanguine following strong US economic data Friday and positive comments out of Washington on the trade talks.

"Nevertheless, investors are likely to stay mildly cautious, pending further trade talks details.

"Meanwhile, despite recent 75% of the S&P 500 companies that reported so far managed to beat a sharp markdown in earnings and revenue expectations, 1Q19 earnings projections remain tepid and are likely to cap further strong gains ahead, with stiff resistances at 25,200-25,500 levels," the research house said.

At the local market, the potential trade deal between the US and China by end-February and a dovish US Federal Reserve would help risk-on sentiment in this holiday-shortened week with the KLCI to recapture the 1,700 psychological barrier, HLIB Research said.

"Besides, the oil & gas sector is likely to remain actively traded with the firmer Brent oil prices rallied 1.8% w-o-w (week-on-week) to US$62.80 (RM256.85)," it said.