KLCI up, small caps down as investors weigh Covid-19, Malaysia's RM20b stimulus

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 27): The FBM KLCI closed 10.4 points or 0.7% higher today after index-linked stocks rose ahead of interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's speech on Malaysia's 2020 economic stimulus package and as local equities took cue from the current corporate financial reporting season.

At 5pm, the KLCI ended at 1,505.59 although Bursa Malaysia small market capitalisation (small cap) stocks fell in apparent reflection of global share market sentiment amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Bursa's small cap index ended down 241.18 points or 1.78% at 13,324.48 after Asian shares tracked US stock futures losses. Among Asian stock indices, Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea's Kospi closed down 2.13% and and 1.05% respectively.

CNBC reported that major Asia Pacific markets were mixed on Thursday as investors remained cautious over the fast-spreading new coronavirus that has infected more than 81,000 people and killed over 2,700.

“Most of the people infected and killed by the disease to date are from China. However, the number of cases outside the country has surged in recent weeks — especially in places like South Korea, Italy, and Iran. That’s led to global sell-off, including in the US where the S&P 500 wiped out US$1.7 trillion in just two sessions,” CNBC said.
 
In Malaysia today, Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd research vice president Vincent Lau said "investors' hope that the economic stimulus package will curb the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the local economy had a positive effect on the KLCI".

Dr Mahathir said today the stimulus package valued at RM20 billion is anchored on three strategies namely mitigating the impact of COVID-19, spurring people-centric economic growth and promoting quality investments.

Corporate financial results played a role too in supporting the KLCI's gains. Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) was one such example after its share price rose 19 sen or 2.28% to close at RM8.52 after the group reported profit growth and proposed a dividend.

Areca Capital Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Danny Wong Teck Meng said "Maybank's share price gain helped lift the KLCI" as the broader market fell.

Across Bursa today, 3.52 billion shares exchanged hands for RM2.67 billion. A total of 622 counters declined against 264 gainers.

Top gainers included PPB Group Bhd and Maybank while leading decliners included Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd and KESM Industries Bhd.