KLCI up as ringgit strengthens after BNM maintains OPR

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 5): The FBM KLCI closed 3.18 points or 0.2% higher today, as the ringgit strengthened after Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) maintained the overnight policy rate (OPR) at 3%.

Globally, Malaysian shares could have also tracked Asian equities' rise on US-China trade deal hopes. Such sentiment helped US shares post record closing highs overnight on Monday.

At Bursa Malaysia today, the KLCI closed at its intraday high at 1,606.74 at 5pm, after erasing losses at the last minute. The KLCI had earlier fallen to its intraday low at 1,597.76.

In currency markets, the ringgit strengthened to 4.1315 against the US dollar at the time of writing, in an apparent response to BNM' rate decision announcement at 3pm today.

In theory, interest rate cuts are bad for currencies, due to capital outflow concerns.
 
On the KLCI, Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd vice president of research Vincent Lau told theedgemarkets.com that the "KLCI was boosted at the 11th hour by positive sentiment, following BNM's decision to retain the OPR at 3%".

BNM said in a statement today that it expects Malaysia's economic growth to be within projections in 2019. BNM said it expects the economic growth pace to be sustained going into 2020.

"This projection remains subject to downside risks, mainly stemming from uncertainties in global economic and financial conditions, as well as weakness in commodity-related sectors," BNM said.

Across Bursa today, the exchange saw 2.62 billion shares, worth RM2.25 billion traded. Top gainers included Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd and Mega First Corp Bhd.

US-China trade deal hopes, spurred global shares. Reuters reported Asian shares vaulted to six-month highs on Tuesday, surpassing their July peaks, as hopes Washington may roll back some of the tariffs it has imposed on imports from China, shored up optimism on the global economic outlook.

It was reported that the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.5% to reach levels last seen in early May, led by gains in Chinese shares.

"China is pushing US President Donald Trump to remove more tariffs imposed in September, as part of a “phase one” US-China trade deal, expected to be signed later this month, people familiar with the negotiations said on Monday," Reuters reported.