KLCI, ringgit gain ahead of Brexit referendum

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 21): The FBM KLCI erased losses in the final trading minutes for a 3.46-point or 0.2% gain as concerns on the UK's potential European Union (EU) exit ebbed. The ringgit also strengthened on such sentiment.

At 5pm, the KLCI closed at its intraday high at 1,637.69 points after volatile trade, which had earlier pushed the index to its intraday low at 1,630.30.

The ringgit strengthened to 4.0328 against the US dollar at 5pm as investors expected the UK's proposed EU exit, which is popularly known as Brexit, was unlikely. The UK's Brexit referendum will be held this Thursday (June 23).

Today, the KLCI rose with Asian shares. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.28% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 0.77%.

Reuters reported that Asian shares rose after a tentative start on Tuesday, cautiously extending a rally triggered by growing expectations that British voters will opt to remain in the EU in this week's referendum.

Investors remain wary ahead of Thursday's British vote, as well as Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's two-day testimony before Congress starting later on Tuesday, as she might offer clues on the timing of the next US interest rate increase.

In Malaysia today, Mercury Securities Sdn Bhd research head Edmund Tham told theedgemarkets.com that share trade was considered "quiet" amid the Brexit sentiment.

"The market is quiet today, volume was not high, just average, and there was not much direction. This is likely to persist until Friday (June 24) after the referendum is completed," Tham said.

Across Bursa Malaysia today, trading volume was 1.35 billion shares worth RM1.45 billion.

There were 371 gainers versus 370 decliners.

Top gainer was Lafarge Malaysia Bhd while the biggest decliner was United Plantations Bhd. Vivocom Intl Holdings Bhd was the most-actively traded counter.